October 25, 2009

Hawaii Approves Plan For First Tuna Farm In US

Hawaii's State Board of Land and Natural Resources has voted to approve the development of the first tuna farm in the US.

Hawaii Oceanic Technology's plan was approved in a 4-1 vote, which gives the company the go-ahead to put together an economically friendly environment to raise bigeye tuna.

The firm has been approved to install three large cages in state waters off the island of Hawaii. The company will raise tuna from eggs and grow them in free-floating "oceanspheres."

"There is only so much shoreline you can use," said Hawaii Oceanic Technology co-founder Bill Spencer. "We are trying to revolutionize fish farming."

"I'm concerned on a global level and a local level that we have severe overfishing going on, and something needs to be done," Board of Land and Natural Resources member John Morgan told the Associated Press.

Cages will be set in an area of the ocean where waters reach 1,3000 feet in depth, allowing for strong currents to keep fish waste and uneaten food from polluting the ocean floor.

The company expects the fish farm to yield 6,000 tons of tuna each year once it is in full effect, generating $120 million in annual export revenues "“ more than six times the value of Hawaii's current aquaculture output, according to the AP.

The company earned a lease that would prohibit fishing within 100 feet of buoys.

Some critics claim that the farm would allow diseased tuna to escape and contaminate wild stocks.

"This is not a farm," Rob Parsons, a board member of the environmentalist group Maui Tomorrow, told the AP. "It's an industrial feed lot."


Image Caption: Self-sustaining and untethered to the ocean floor, the Oceansphereâ“ž¢ is designed to produce large harvests in a very small footprint. Credit: Hawaii Oceanic Technology


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