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by Jessica McDunn, University Relations

Charles Laidley, Ph.D., program manager of OI’s Finfish Department, has been named principal investigator for the Hawai‘i Offshore Aquaculture Research Project that will include the University of Hawai‘i, the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology, and private companies Cates International in Ewa, O‘ahu, and Kona Blue Water Farms, of Kona, Hawai‘i.

Laidley will lead research with co-investigators Teresa Lewis, Ph.D., of the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology, and Chuck Helsley, Ph.D., of the University of Hawai‘i-Manoa, to identify and address the next steps in the successful demonstration of sustainable offshore aquaculture in the United States.

Specifically, this phase of ongoing offshore aquaculture research will use existing open-ocean aquaculture operations and research infrastructure in Hawai‘i to address critical scientific and regulatory issues in the genetic management of cultured stocks, disease transfer between wild and cultured stocks, and cage effluents relative to surrounding marine environments.

Laidley said: “Bringing together these entities to advance this newly emerging industry of offshore aquaculture is a unique opportunity for Hawai‘i and has tremendous potential for our nation and the world. I believe the results of this project will form the basis for sound environmental practices in offshore aquaculture.”

Bruce Anderson, OI president, agreed: “Hawai‘i is uniquely situated to support the nation’s deep-water aquaculture industry. This effort will help us address development issues in Hawai‘i and elsewhere in the Pacific.”

Since 1998, NMAI has funded a total of $15 million in projects to support research to boost the domestic production of commercially and recreationally valuable marine shellfish and finfish species. Many of the NMAI projects have focused on three areas: shellfish farming, new production systems, and aquaculture policy.

Seafood demand is expected to increase rapidly, and officials of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say the United States has fallen behind other countries in fish farming. The 2006 grants range from $199,000 to $505,000 and support projects that assess the commercial potential of marine aquaculture, the feasibility of stock enhancement, and environmental impacts of aquaculture in various environments. The grants also support research on key aquatic animal nutrition and health issues.

Oceanic Institute competed with applicants from universities, nonprofit organizations, commercial organizations, individuals, and federal, state, local, and Indian tribal governments. Over 200 proposals were submitted seeking more than $75 million in funding.






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