Maine Patent of the Month – April 2021

Aquaculture is an expanding sustainable and environmentally friendly approach to producing protein-rich sources of food. Mollusks live on beds near the body of the water, but are vulnerable to predators. Cultivation methods that grow mollusks in enclosures require transfer of mollusks to different enclosures throughout their life cycle. This method is time consuming and has high loss of mollusks between transfers. Running Tide Technologies, Inc. has designed a cultivation method using an enclosure that supports the mollusk from larvae to adulthood.

The system uses a pen, control system, pumping mechanisms and buoyancy tanks. The mollusks are set up in the pen which can be placed in a body of water. The pumping mechanism creates a water flow through the pen to prevent stagnation. The buoyancy tanks are adjusted so that the pen can be situated at the desired height within the water. Their system involves two steps – the first has the pen partially submerged in water. When transitioning to the next step, the control system is used to direct the buoyancy tanks to adjust their volume of liquid in order to sink the pen fully below the water. The first stage is ideal for the growth of larvae which grow near the surface with nutrient-rich water flowing over them. As the mollusks mature, it can be lowered into the water further and allow the now-adult mollusks to grow as usual. This life-long enclosure means the aquaculture system needs less human intervention and can be employed in deep water environments which are better for mollusks. The system can then be surfaced and opened for collection of mollusks. The natural environmental growth improves the quality of mollusks being cultivated and reduces the problems associated with traditional methods.

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