Aquaculture in Hawaii - OPEN OCEAN AQUACULTURE IN HAWAII by...

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OPEN OCEAN AQUACULTURE IN HAWAII by Charles E. Helsley Emeritus Researcher, SOEST, University of Hawaii at Manoa Published in the March Issue of Hawaii Fishing News. For the past four years, the University of Hawaii and the Oceanic Institute have been engaged in research into the feasibility and environmental acceptability of Open Ocean Aquaculture in Hawaii. I would like to convey to your readers some results from that research. News magazines and newspapers have recently published a series of articles that imply that aquaculture has deleterious consequences on the environment. Indeed, like all things, adverse interactions can occur and have been documented in some parts of the world where over-development, or development without adequate understanding of the environmental consequences, has had negative impacts. This was the reason that environmental monitoring was made a part of Sea Grant’s support for our Hawaii Open- Ocean Aquaculture Demonstration Program (HOARP) that was begun 4 years ago. The initial goals of HOARP were (1) to learn whether or not open ocean aquaculture could be done in Hawaii, (2) if it was feasible, to ask whether the technology was mature enough to warrant the investment in time and effort to develop a farm, and (3) to determine whether the associated environmental impacts to the seafloor, surrounding water, and other nearby elements such as reefs were sufficiently small to be acceptable to the people of Hawaii. We learned that, indeed, it was feasible to grow a local fish in offshore cages, that the technology was mature enough to withstand the rigors of our rough offshore waters, and that the environmental impact was virtually nil. I will elaborate on each of these elements of our work in the paragraphs that follow. After examining several sites, we chose to do our work at a site about 2 miles off Ewa Beach on Oahu. It was not that this was necessarily the best site, but it was out of the main shipping lanes, it was an adequate one with a sandy bottom where we could deploy anchors, and it was one that was accessible on a daily basis from the University of Hawaii’s marine support base in Honolulu harbor. The Oceanic Institute and the UH entered into agreements to pursue the work in the fall of 1998 and research permits from the State were requested and received. We ordered an OceanSpar 3000 cage, a fully submersible cage built by a firm in the Seattle area, in the fall of 1998 and began growing some 90,000 fingerlings at the OI facility in Waimanalo in February 1999. The cage was assembled and deployed in March and by the end of April we had some 50,000 to 70,000 fingerlings in the cage. We began harvesting the moi in the cage in September 1999 and continued until the end of October when the cage was empty (approximately 50,000 fish were harvested). Throughout the 8-month effort, we made observations of the seafloor, sampled the water around the cage, and monitored the health of the nearby reef (about _ mile away). We saw nothing! No change at all.
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This note was uploaded on 04/29/2011 for the course OCN 201 taught by Professor Decarlo,e during the Summer '08 term at University of Hawaii, Manoa.

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Aquaculture in Hawaii - OPEN OCEAN AQUACULTURE IN HAWAII by...

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