Factory Fish Farming in Hawaii Expected to Expand By 900 Percent


photo: J. Novak

Fish farming has become a reality within an industry that over fished its way through global fish stocks at a remarkable rate. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, 75 percent of the world's fisheries are now either overexploited, fully exploited, significantly depleted, or recovering from overexploitation. And Hawaii is no exception. Twenty years ago Hawaii became the nation's testing ground for factory fish farming and though documented environmental repercussions are coming to light, the industry plans to expand 900 percent by 2013, according to Food and Water Watch.The two mega factory fish farms in Hawaii, Kona Blue Water Farms and Hukilau Foods, LLC. Hukilau Foods, were recently approved to quadruple production. According to a Food and Water Watch report the industry isn't regulated strictly enough resulting in waste and chemicals being released directly into the once virgin waters. And as the industry expands dramatically, the repercussions from a lack of regulation will be dramatic. According to the press release, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will be holding one of several hearings across the nation on developing a national offshore aquaculture policy on April 27th in Honolulu, HI.

Sustainable Alternatives to Factory Fish Farming
A recent report released by Food and Water Watch outlines how expansion of more sustainable fish farms could successfully fill necessary quotas in a sustainable manner. The alternatives include Loko 'ia, traditional fishponds and land-based recirculating aquaculture systems.

Loko 'ia, traditional fishponds are semi-circular walls made from lava boulders and coral which keep the fish inside while allowing the sea water to ebb in and out.

"Loko 'ia, traditional fishponds, have been part of sustainable food production in Hawaii for centuries," said Miwa Tamanaha, Executive Director at KAHEA. "Now is the time to find the lessons they have to teach us for the future, and to protect the future of our oceans from the contamination, privatization and loss of public access that comes with commercial open ocean fish farms."

Recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) are a series of culture tanks and filters where water is continuously recycled. To prevent the deterioration of water quality, the water is treated mechanically through the removal of particulate matter and biologically through the conversion of harmful accumulated chemicals into nontoxic ones. This is much better than traditional factory farming where the fish become damaged because they are packed so closely that their fins rub against each other. Also, factory fisheries often add dyes and antibiotics to the fish that can be harmful to the end product. As the quality of the water deteriorates in enclosed tanks, the fish begin to absorb the toxins and chemicals floating around in the water. These toxins and chemicals contaminate our oceans.

More on Factory Fish Farming:
Review: Bottomfeeder: How To Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood
Aquaponics USA: Ready-to-Use Aquaponic Kits for Home Fish Farming
Worldwatch Institute Reports that Sustainable Fish Farms Can Feed the World

Tags: Fish | Hawaii