Background

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 the University of Hawaii (UH) College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (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.


Increase in pounds of commercially raised fish sold

(Data coming soon)

Agency: Department of Agriculture

Image: (Above) Getty Images, (Below) Kampachi Farms

Increase in dollar value of commercially raise fish

Aquaculture is the cultivation and harvesting of aquatic plants and animals in controlled environments. Hawaiʻi’s aquaculture industry consists of the Commercial Production Sector, which includes commercial farming of a wide variety of species, and the Research and Technology Transfer Sector, which includes service activities such as research, degree education, training, consulting and professional conferencing.

For more information on aquaculture operations in Hawaiʻi, please see the Animal Industry Division-Aquaculture and Livestock Support Services Branch webpage.

Agency: Department of Agriculture

Image: (Above) Getty Images, (Below) UH Hilo Pacific Aquaculture & Coastal Resource Center

Increase in number of viable classified shellfish growing waters

Agency: Department of Health

Image: (Above) Getty Images, (Below) Hana Hou

Video: DLNR 

Increase in number of permitted commercial shellfish operators 

Agency: Department of Health

Image: (Above) Getty Images, (Below) Honolulu Magazine

Increase in number of pounds of shellfish sold to local markets/restaurants in Hawai‘i 

(Data coming soon)

Agency: Department of Health

Image: (Above) Getty Images, (Below) FROLIC Hawaiʻi

Increase in number of pounds of shellfish exported out of state

(Data coming soon)

Agency: Department of Health

Image: (Above) Getty Images, (Below) Center for Tropical and Subtropical Aquaculture


Title Image: Flickr