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ARTIFICIAL UPWELLING
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In Haiti, few fishermen venture far from shore. Fishing occurs only in the shallow coastal waters due to a lack of modern equipment that hinders the fishing industry. There are no cooling facilities on board the ships and 35% of the catches of reef fish and crustaceans spoil on the way to local markets. The development of deep ocean water (DOW) sites at different points along the coast will provide facilities chilled with cold DOW for storage and preservation of the catches until they can be transported to the city markets. Additionally, the fishermen’s catches can be supplemented by finfish and shellfish such as salmon, flounder, tilapia and lobster produced by aquaculture in ponds of pure, nutrient-rich deep seawater.

However, one of the main challenges facing the Haitian fishing industry is overfishing and dwindling stocks of fish due to deforestation and pollution. Indeed, every year some 15,000 acres of arable soil are swept along toward the sea as a result of the ecological degradation of the land made largely arid by centuries of deforestation and erosion. Sediment pours into the sea, decimating fish stocks and damaging marine resources and the Haitian fishing industry.

 


Soil erosion runs into the sea on the coast in Montrouis, northwest of Port-au-Prince

One oceanic process is upwelling, which occurs when strong winds push surface seawater away from the coast, bringing cold, nutrient-rich deep ocean water (DOW) up to the surface along the shore. The deep water nutrients, when brought to the surface, are processed by phytoplankton, using the energy of the sun through photosynthesis. Upwelling therefore causes very high levels of phytoplankton production compared to other areas of the ocean. Since phytoplankton is the basic nutrient of most sea animals, regions of natural upwelling where nutrient-rich DOW flows continuously to the ocean surface are the most productive fishing grounds. Although they constitute no more than 0.5% of all water in the oceans and seas, these regions support nearly 50% of all sea products.
Research conducted on artificial upwelling over the past few years has made it possible to bring up DOW and distribute it in the surface waters to increase phytoplankton production in the euphotic layer and thus to fertilize coastal areas and enhance the open ocean mariculture. The process of artificial upwelling can be combined with ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) that uses the temperature difference between the cold deep seawater and the warm surface water to generate the electric energy necessary to pump the cold water to the surface. Feasibility studies have found an OTEC plant mounted on a floating platform to be the most suitable energy source for the process of ocean nutrient enhancement; only 2% of the electricity produced is used in the process, and the surplus electric power can be carried on land for other uses by submarine transmission cables.

We therefore contemplate using the new artificial upwelling technology in combination with OTEC for enhancing the nutrients responsible for supporting a large population of small and large fish in coastal areas of Haiti . This will increase the sea food availability for feeding the coastal population and for local markets. It will also have the effect of sequestering green house gases and of even curbing the intensity of tropical storms.

Schematic representation of the ocean nutrient enhancer – Image adapted from Xenesys Inc
As occurs along the shore of Peru , a region of natural upwelling, sea birds will abound in this fishing ground and become an appealing visual spectacle on the nearby coast. They may also become economically important as high producers of guano, droppings that the country could mine and export around the world for fertilizer. Perhaps whales may also make their appearance in this fishing ground to feed on krill and do their little waltz to the delight of ecotourist watchers.



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