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Vertical Oceans CEO John Diener: RAS shrimp farms "have reached a turning point"

Farming shrimp intensively in vertical, urban settings is the mission of John Diener, the CEO of Vertical Oceans, one of a range of aquaculture start-ups that have chosen to locate in Singapore, a city-state keen to increase its self-sufficiency in food and to become an innovation hub for the wider region. 

Vertical Oceans, formerly known as Akualogix, has pioneered a form of land-based shrimp aquaculture, including modular grow-out units stacked in a vertical system. The company has performed six harvests from its pilot facility and reports robust interest in its products. It has doubled its headcount since January 2022. Diener said he's keen to tap into the huge demand for shrimp in Asia.

"Some of our technologies could be adapted to traditional pond aquaculture, but our focus is to use our technology to grow shrimp in our vertical oceans. Shrimp producers are increasingly adopting technology to improve their profits. A lot of this is market-making apps, which better align margins across the value chain. That's a good first step in technology adoption in farms, which historically were slow technology adopters."

"Overall, we do see a shift towards higher stocking densities, and that does require better management, where technology can assist. I will give away one bit of free technology to these farms: one of the simplest and most-effective technologies pond aquaculture could adopt to have a settlement pond for bioremediation of their effluent before releasing it into the ocean. That one step could have a bigger impact than any digital or IoT technology. Grow tilapia and milkfish in those ponds to consume the organics, and it becomes economically productive. It baffles me that many farmers still don't do this."

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