Starting in 2002 until 2008, Visi accepted a position to research and develop a land-based, 40,000 gallons, 3,600 square foot, commercial seaweed production and bio-remediation project with two colleagues from his 1988 CMRC position.
He started as an assistant researcher and farm manager, but by 2004, he was the lead researcher of a land-based “Tumble Culture” macroalgae project located at the NOAA/NMFS Fish Laboratory in Manchester, WA (photo left) in conjunction with Sea Grant and a private company, to find out whether a land based farm could operate year-round and become sustainable.
By 2005, he was an expert and one of a handful of pioneers in land-based seaweed “tumble culture” production systems. He developed proprietary sustainable plant cultivation protocols in conjunction with the tumble culture technology and grew Turkish Towel, a large bladed plant that at that time, was not considered possible to grow in tanks.
He discovered that his sustainable cultivation protocols could be used for many other macroalgae species as well. Using these protocols allowed for sustainable, high-growth biomass that could be used to aggressively bio-remediate the waste streams of concentrated organic nutrients found in the effluent of fish and shellfish farms and hatcheries.
From 2005 to 2007, Visi worked on a project with the University of Idaho and NMFS as one of three marine biologists responsible for an 85,000 gallons aquaculture system comprised of four 10,000 gallon land-based, six 5,000 gallon land-based, and six 2,500 gallon floating bag containment systems.
Their responsibilities included rearing broodstock groundfish to replenish twelve decimated fishery stocks in Puget Sound. They conducted the first restocking pilot operation of three rockfish species, which involved rearing developing eggs, fry, smolts/juveniles, adults, and brooding pairs of codfish, lingcod, rockfish, sablefish, halibut, and other flatfish species.
They designed, created, and maintained a sustainable live multi-trophic food chain production operation to sustain the fish before releasing them into the environment; and compiled multi-level databases of nutrient conversions, growth rates, and other biological measurements. He was particularly interested in preparing feed formulas and feeding the brooding pairs that produced the eutrophic water for the seaweed farm he managed.
In this position, he learned what his seaweed system required in order to function properly and derived a crucial ratio he termed the Seaweed Growth Ratio Percentage (SGR%).
The SGR% allows him to accurately estimate the amount of seaweed/macroalgae that can be grown at any particular site, depending upon many site-specific attributes.
Visi grew an average of 23 metric tons per year on a 3,600 square foot farm, while bio-remediating 31.2- million gallons of finfish effluent per year.
By 2007, he was acknowledged as a seaweed cultivation and bio-remediation expert, using the tumble-culture cultivation method. He authored a research paper on hybridizing and sustainably growing seaweed in land-based bio-remediation systems that was presented and critiqued by senior NOAA aquaculture scientists Dr. Conrad Mahnken and Dr. Michael Rust.
Table left, is a compilation of bio-remediation rates between 2002 – 2008 of a 30,600 gallons system that grew seaweed species that remediated ~ 30.2-million gallons/year of eutrophic effluent from an point source aquaculture farm; while producing ~ 23-metric tons of (organic certifiable) biomass/year.
By the time he left this project in the summer of 2008, Visi had grown a total of 138 metric tons of organic-certified seaweed while bio-remediating 198 million gallons of eutrophic fish farm effluent. This accomplishment inspired him to continue his research into the design and development of his Synergistic Sustainable Tumble Culture (SSTC) System, a fully environmentally controlled system that maintains production year-round while remediating eutrophic water before it enters the ecosystem. Eventually he found that the SSTC System could also remediate existing eutrophic ecosystems as well, which can be seen on the page titled The Beginning.