The company says its fish are raised without significant environmental impact and as a source of Omega-3 fatty acids with no detectable mercury or other contaminants.
Opponents say the giant underwater operation goes against Native Hawaiian traditions and will harm the ocean environment around it.
Kona Blue Water Farms LLC has applied for permits to increase the size of its eight submersible net pens off Unualoha Point to help meet the growing demand for fish as wild stocks are being depleted.
The aquaculture company, which has 38 employees in its Kona hatchery operation, currently raises Kona Kampachi, the trademarked name for its cultivated kahala, a native fish also known as Hawaiian yellowtail or amberjack.
The company, with administrative offices in San Francisco, has applied for use of an additional 13 acres in a conservation district which is managed by the state Land Division. The move would increase the operation's total lease area to 103 acres near Keahole Point, said Neil Sims, Kona Blue president and co-founder.
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