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Aloha from the Oceanic Institute:

Marine finfish aquaculture

by Charles W. Laidley, Ph.D, director, 01 Finfish Dept.


With an ever-increasing world population and the wild fishery now fully exploited, aquaculture provides exciting new opportunities to utilize marine resources while conserving open ocean and coral reef environments. Nowhere is this more important than Hawai‘i.

The Finfish Research group at the Oceanic Institute is actively engaged in a range of activities that aim to solve key problems in culturing marine fishes for human consumption or the marine ornamental trade. Toward this goal, the group is organized into specialized teams, each with their own specific challenges.

The Broodstock Team develops husbandry and reproductive technologies for multiple marine species. Key successes include the first-ever captive spawning of kahala, omilu, and yellow tang.
Eggs are then utilized by the Larviculture Team to create and optimize hatchery technologies for growing the delicate larval stages of these pelagic spawning species. Recent successes include the first-ever captive rearing of flame angelfish.

In support of rearing spawned eggs through the challenging 30-day larval period, the Live Feeds team is actively engaged in culturing planktonic organisms, including a variety of microalgae and crustacean species, upon which larvae feed. Recent success may revolutionize aquaculture, allowing the captive cultivation of a large number of pelagic and coral reef species that previously could not be reared in captivity.

Although fish have been classically grown to market sizes in ponds and tanks, our group has also been active in collaborative projects testing large submersible offshore cages for commercial growout of moi and other foodfish species to harvest size. After two successful growout cycles using a 26003 meter submersible cage system, we are actively transfering the technology to this rapidly emerging industry.

Since the opening of our demonstration hatchery facility late in 2002, the Production Hatchery Team has generated nearly two million moi fingerlings in their role of testing marine finfish culture technologies at commercial scales of operation, and assisting in the transfer this technology to the commercial sector.

OI’s multidisciplinary research team has successfully established a worldwide reputation for developing new marine fish culture technologies and plays a pivotal role in national marine aquaculture development and marine fishery restoration initiatives. I invite HPU students to take advantage of newly developed courses in aquaculture and coastal resource management or directly participate, as interns or volunteers, to learn new technologies and contribute to ongoing research projects.



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