by Cory Harden
Nine out of every ten pounds of harvested fish from the fish farm planned off North Kohala will be shipped out of Hawai`i. Two pounds of feed will be shipped in for each pound of fish produced. Twenty-plus jobs, 1,200,000 pounds of fish a year, and returns for investors are what Hawai`i will gain. What will we risk?
Twelve cages, each 30 yards across, will float untethered 1300 feet deep, dependent on new propulsion technology to hold them against currents, storms & tsunamis. No bond will be posted in case of disaster.
Disease from farm fish, caged off from culling by predators, may cause epidemics in wild fish. Drugs and antibiotics may not help, since residues may linger in the fish, and spread into the ocean from fish droppings. Vaccines take years to develop.
Public ocean waters (250 acres) will be used for private profit. More are coming – Hawai`i is the only state that allows ocean leasing. Two existing fish farms plan expansion. Three more may start up.
“[T]here are still unresolved issues regarding the level of environmental and project disclosure and analysis regarding the engineering design of the proposed engine, fish feed components, lack of benthic studies in the project area, and the lack of shark, marine mammal and endangered species plans,” says the Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands.1
We urge that upcoming hearings for a Conservation District Use Permit be held in West Hawai`i and be well-publicized. We urge that the State address all risks and “incorporate ecological perspectives,” like the Hawaiian fish pond, to “integrate fishing, aquaculture and conservation.”2
1 State Environmental Notice, 7-23-09.
2 Goldburg and Naylor, “Future Seascapes, Fishing and Fish Farming,” Ecol Environ 2005, 3 (1):21-28.