Hawaiʻi’s economy is dependent on the health of the ocean. The marine-related industries of fishing, aquaculture, tourism, recreation, and shipping provide approximately 15% of Hawaiʻi’s civilian jobs. According to the National Ocean Economics Program (NOEP), in 2010 Hawaiʻi’s ocean economy accounted for 100,215 jobs and over $3.1 billion in wages.
According to University of Hawai‘i (UH) College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (UH CTAHR), Hawai‘i residents eat more seafood per capita than the rest of the United States. In 2010, Hawai‘i residents spent $330.68 per capita or 11.4% of their total food consumption at home and in restaurants. This is over twice as much as the U.S. per capita of $143.68. Hawaiʻi’s aquaculture value of shellfish and finfish is $2,000,000 annually, and expected to increase.
Shellfish rules were created in the early 1980s to accommodate a fledgling shellfish industry, and because the industry did not survive, the DOH lab lost its U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) certification to analyze shellfish growing waters and shellfish meat samples. In recent years, there has been a concerted effort to create a viable shellfish industry, and the DOH Food Safety Program and DOH lab have revived the shellfish sanitation program.
Benchmark - Where we are now
  • Aquaculture – Many believe that aquaculture is one of the major potential sources for achieving food security and sustainability in the State of Hawaiʻi. A single commercial fish farm exists off the Kona coast, producing over ten thousand pounds of kampachi every week.
  • The Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture (DOA) has prepared an Aquaculture Guidebook, Permits and Regulatory Requirements for Aquaculture in Hawaiʻi (2011).
  • The Department of Health (DOH) labs on O‘ahu and Hawai‘i Island are now FDA certified to analyze shellfish waters and shellfish samples. Three applications were received by the DOH Food Safety Program to classify shellfish growing waters, and DOH Environmental Health & Safety Division has completed their assessments for two areas on O‘ahu (Moli‘i and He‘eia Keaponds) and one artificial growing area on Kaua‘i. Growing water sampling has commenced for permit approvals.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO) has facilitated development of an aquaculture permitting process with DLNR-OCCL and USACE. NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) has developed a mapping portal to aid in siting open ocean aquaculture.
  • Shipping – The state’s economy is completely dependent on the state’s harbors. Hawai‘i imports 80% of its required goods, and nearly 99% of these come through the harbor system as their point of entry. With ten commercial harbors on six islands, the health of this state asset is important to the overall economy.
  • Energy – The Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI) goal is to achieve 70% clean energy by 2030. This includes 30% from energy efficiency measures and 40% from locally generated renewable sources. Several companies are looking at harnessing ocean-based energy such as Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC), deep seawater air conditioning, and electricity from wave and wind to achieve this goal. In addition, the interconnection of separate island electrical grids via undersea cable has been identified as one of the keys to achieving Hawaiʻi’s energy goals.
Target - Where we would like to be
  • Suitable aquaculture standards are developed and implemented, based on current scientific data, to support culturally, environmentally, and economically sustainable operations, with the goal to increase local food production.
  • Aquaculture standards are integrated into the existing permitting process to facilitate new aquaculture development and improve ongoing industry oversight.
  • Development of the permitting process for aquaculture is completed.
  • DOH completes its environmental assessments and classification of all three proposed shellfish growing areas.
  • Interstate (export) of shellfish.
  • Tons of cargo arriving at Hawai‘i ports is increased.
  • Clean energy goals of the HCEI are met while balancing the need to protect the ocean and coastal resources.

Improved beach water quality monitoring data

The Clean Water Branch (CWB) currently monitors beach water quality monitoring stations at various locations around the state, which can be found in an interactive map on the CWB website. Data includes bacteria (enterococcus, C. perfringens) and field chemistry (pH, salinity, DO, DO%, turbidity, temperature). Availability and frequency of data varies between locations. A full list of sampling locations is available here.

Agency: Department of Health

Images: (Above) Getty Images, (Below) DOH CWB, Surfrider Foundation (1), Surfrider Foundation (2)

Increase in number of hotels with recognized sustainability certifications or program affiliations

Green Resorts & Hotels are businesses that are committed to conserving Hawaiʻi’s natural resources by implementing practices that conserve and save water, energy, and lower the amount of solid waste generated.

The graph below displays hotels and resorts awarded by the Hawaiʻi Green Business Program (HGBP). HGBP recognition is valid for one year. Thus, continuous awardees are listed each year, but do not represent an increase in sustainable hotels and resorts. To see which hotels were awarded by the Hawaiʻi Green Business Program, please see their website.

Agency: Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism, Hawaiʻi State Energy Office, Hawai‘i Green Business Program

Image: M.Lander

Increase in number of tour operators who are recognized as Dolphin SMART

As of 2017, 6 tour operators in Hawaiʻi have 'Dolphin Smart' recognition. For a full list of participants, please see the Dolphin Smart webpage. Hawaiʻi-specific program information can be found here.

The Dolphin Smart program aims to:

• Minimize the potential of wild dolphin harassment caused by commercial viewing activities.

• Reduce people’s expectations of wanting to closely interact with wild dolphins in a manner that may cause harassment.

• Eliminate advertising that creates expectations to engage in activities that may cause harassment.

• Educate the public about the importance of responsibly viewing wild dolphins.

All participants must voluntarily adhere to:

• Program Criteria: Legal requirements, policies, and guidelines, as well as best viewing and advertising practices to prevent harassment of wild dolphins.

• Training and Education: Participation in an initial training workshop and yearly online refresher training.

• Evaluation for Participation and Recognition: Initial evaluation to establish participation and receive program recognition. Annual evaluation to ensure active compliance with the program criteria and determine the program’s effectiveness.

Agency: Department of Land and Natural Resources

Image: NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries

Title Image: Flickr