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Why Big Island is set for a massive aquaculture year

24 May 2021, at 12:01am

Hawaii’s Big Island is due to reinforce its reputation as the epicentre of US aquaculture research, following the award of a $1.8 million grant and the announcement of a brand new aquaculture innovation studio.

Last week US Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimondo, announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) would award a $1.8 million grant to the Natural Energy Lab of Hawaii (NELHA), to support business retention and growth initiatives at a sustainable technology park. The EDA grant, to be matched with $459,658 in local investment, is expected to create 250 jobs and spur $40 million in private investment.

“The eruption of the Kilauea Volcano had a devastating impact on Hawaii’s economy,” said Raimondo. “This project will support the Big Island’s recovery through the creation of well-paying, quality jobs and the establishment of green technology industries.”

“EDA is committed to helping communities across Hawaii build back stronger following natural disasters,” said Dennis Alvord, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “This EDA investment will allow the NELHA-administered Hawaii Ocean Sciences and Technology Park to extend its Aquaculture Accelerator program and develop an associated aquaculture incubator program, helping attract new businesses and industries.”

NELHA has received a $1.8 million grant, allowing it to foster more aquaculture innovation in Hawaii
NELHA has received a $1.8 million grant, allowing it to foster more aquaculture innovation in Hawaii

© NELHA

Applications invited for aquaculture innovation studio

The news comes shortly after Hatch announced that it would be running an Aquaculture Innovation Studio at NELHA from 1 – 30 July, for startups based in Oceania and the Americas. Available both in-person and remotely, applications are open until 4 June.

Hatch has offices at NELHA and has previously run successful accelerator programmes there. Cohort companies including Symbrosia are now based on Big Island.

“This [EDA-funded] project builds on the success of a three-year pilot aquaculture program and aims to transform that program into a self-sustaining long-term effort to attract significant investment and increase job creation in Hawaii,” said Governor David Ige.

“Hawaii has a deep history of aquaculture – one that dates back hundreds of years and continues today, blending traditional practices with modern technology,” said Senator Brian Schatz. “This investment will give NELHA more resources to grow Hawaii Island’s aquaculture industry and build on Hawaii’s rich tradition of sustainable fish farming.”

“Federal investments like today’s announcement by EDA are critical to helping Hawaii Island continue its road to recovery following the 2018 Kilauea eruption,” said Senator Mazie Hirono. “These funds will not only continue the accelerator program at NELHA, maintaining Hawaii as a key global player in bringing sustainable aquaculture research and technology development to market, but will expand that effort by supporting the creation of an incubator while along the way supporting hundreds of jobs and leveraging millions of dollars.”

“NELHA’s Hawaii Ocean and Science Technology Park (HOST) serves as the premier site for ocean-related research and education in the US,” said Congressman Kaialiʻi Kahele (HI-02). “Funding from the EDA allows HOST to continue its work on renewable, clean energy technologies while expanding job growth and green economic development in Hawaiʻi.”

Senior editor at The Fish Site

Rob Fletcher has been writing about aquaculture since 2007, as editor of Fish Farmer, Fish Farming Expert and The Fish Site. He has an MA in history from the University of Edinburgh and an MSc in sustainable aquaculture from the University of St Andrews. He currently lives and works in Scotland.

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