Hawaii’s Restorative Aquaculture Opportunities Revealed


The State of Hawaii has decided to make a concerted and collaborative effort to increase its visibility in marine aquaculture, in order to capitalize on business opportunities and be at the forefront of innovation in the growing industry. . To assess and demonstrate Hawaii’s potential in this context, hatch interviewed a wide range of stakeholders across the Hawaiian ecosystem and beyond.

It considers that shellfish farming and seaweed farming have particularly high potential. As forms of restorative aquaculture, these types of feed and biomass production require minimal feed, freshwater, or land. Additionally, restorative aquaculture projects have the potential to go beyond impact reduction and can actually improve water quality, remove excess nutrients from their immediate environment, mitigate climate change and providing new habitats – all of which create healthier ecosystems for marine life, while also providing new opportunities for economic development.

What makes Hawaii well positioned and suitable for restorative aquaculture activities?

  • A strong cultural base – as aquaculture has indigenous roots through fish pond practices and the islanders have a high rate of seafood consumption.
  • Unique geographical advantages and a favorable climate, with high levels of productivity and biosecurity, due to the isolation of the archipelago.
  • An existing R&D infrastructure and a sophisticated research community.

From 2022 and beyond, report reveals how the State of Hawaii can lead by example in climate change mitigation, using restorative aquaculture as a nature-based solution to rejuvenate coastal habitats , indigenous culture and improve food security, while providing more job opportunities in a sustainable ocean economy.

Currently, regulatory barriers and limits of aquatic space, gaps in knowledge about native species, cultivation processes and market potential, as well as lack of risk capital hinder the development of this new sector of the blue economy.

The report concludes with a number of targeted action areas to put this emerging sector on the right track.

  • Optimize the governance framework to reduce regulatory barriers.
  • Coordinate and support early-stage research to fill knowledge gaps.
  • Support existing, new and potential farmers, practitioners and entrepreneurs and promote cross-sector collaboration to accelerate innovation.
  • Use knowledge from R&D to develop value chains and markets with high added value.
  • Develop a workforce and capacity building plan that includes diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Raise awareness of the benefits and potential beyond the aquaculture community.

As a next step, a dedicated working group consisting of at least one representative from the private, public, venture capital, academic and non-profit sectors should be convened and address a number of initial areas of action suggested in The report.

Hatch builds on a previous successful three-year accelerator and investment program from 2019-2021 and looks forward to fostering and supporting more innovations in Hawaii in this context. In its next phase of development, Hawaii will be designated as Hatch’s global headquarters for all of its accelerator and innovation studio activities as it bolsters its team and resources at its NELHA offices on the Big Island.

The report can be downloaded here.

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