October 13, 2003



Hawaii Aquaculture Experienced Huge Growth


Hawaii's aquaculture industry experienced a year of record growth in 2002, bringing in $25.2m, an increase of 13% over the previous year, according to the state Department of Agriculture.


The recently released figure includes sales of shellfish, finfish, algae and other aquaculture products, all of which increased in value.


"The industry was level from 2000 to 2001," said John Corbin, manager of the state's Aquaculture Development Program. "This is showing revitalization, and that's what is really encouraging."


80% of Hawaii's aquaculture products are consumed locally, with the remainder exported, he said.


Exports also continue to grow. Last year, Japan received the largest export of seaweed and algae, used in health-care and health food products from Hawaii, valued at $1.16m.


Algae sales accounted for $10.5 million, or 42% of 2002 totals, followed by shellfish at $8.2m, or 32% of the value. The "other" category, which includes ornamental fish and brood stock, was valued at $3.8m and accounted for 15%.


The local market consumes most of the limu, but much of the algae is exported by Cyanotech Corp. and Mera Pharmaceuticals Inc. on the Big Island and Maui's Micro Gaia Inc.


The science and business of aquaculture continues to grow not only in Hawaii, but worldwide, Corbin said.


Wild stocks of marine shrimp, abalone, Maine lobster, Atlantic halibut and other highly sought after species are rapidly declining and aquaculture is filling the void, he said.


"I now notice seven or eight farmed products when I visit seafood sections in supermarkets here and on the mainland," he said. "Fifteen years ago it would have been one product -- catfish."