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Fish Farm Fiasco

Hawai‘i has become a testing-ground for industrial aquaculture.

July 30, 2009
Commentary contributed by Christina LizziOrganizer, Fish Program, Food & Water Watch, Washington, D.C.

Last week, Hawai‘i Oceanic Technologies Inc. (HOTI) received approval from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) for its Final Environmental Impact Statement to produce 6,000 to 12,000 tons of ahi tuna yearly, raised in 12 huge Oceansphere cages in a proposed 247-acre lease site off Hawai‘i Island’s Kohala Coast.

The approval was granted despite DLNR’s Office of Coastal and Conservation Lands noting several unresolved issues, including insufficient information on fish feed components, benthic studies, lack of shark, marine mammal, and endangered species plans, and more. Hawai‘i is “open for business,” but that should not mean wholesale approval for every new venture—especially those which when done improperly or at too large a scale could reduce the value and quality of Hawai‘i’s natural resources in the long run.

The huge HOTI proposal states that 90 percent of its tuna production would be processed, then flown to export markets, especially to Japan. One-hundred percent of the fish feed would be imported, with a variety of possible ingredients that cause concern—anchovies and krill removed from the ocean, GMO soybeans for added protein, other animal byproducts and trimmings, and undetermined amounts of growth hormones, antibiotics and preservatives. The end result is wholly unsustainable, unless you consider sustaining the bank accounts of the project’s investors.

The rest of the U.S. will be looking to Hawai‘i’s aquaculture industry as a model, so it is imperative that proper safeguards be taken to protect environmental resources, cultural practices and sustainability ethics.

Food & Water Watch is excited and grateful to be working with local grassroots organizations to help protect the precious and fragile resources unique to Hawai‘i.



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