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Big Island Residents Raise Concerns Over Aquaculture Project

Sustainability +1 more

US - North Kohala residents have voiced their concerns and questioned the impacts that the aquaculture industry, such as Hawaii Oceanic Technology, might have on the Big Island.

Kohala Ranch resident Mike Colson questioned why more community meetings were not held by Hawaii Oceanic Technology prior to the Board of Land and Natural Resources approving the aquaculture company's application for a conservation district use permit in October 2009, reports Honolulu Advertiser.

"I'm not against it. I just wanted to know how you can start such an enormous project that has such visceral impact on a community without hardly any community involvement," Mr Colson said. "It smells a little funny to me. ... Fishy, actually."

More than 50 people turned out for a community meeting at Hamakua Macadamia Nut Coounty to discuss aquaculture and Hawaii Oceanic Technology's plans to develop a 12-cage commercial ahi farm 2.6 miles off the North Kohala coast.

The Honolulu-based company's submerged ahi farm would span 247 acres off Malae Point.

Ahi, including both bigeye and yellowfin tuna, would be raised on land in tanks until the fish reach a foot in length and weigh about five pounds. The fish would then be transferred to submerged, self-powered, untethered cages the company calls Oceanspheres that are projected to produce more than 6,000 tons of fish annually.