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By Charles W. Laidley, director, Finfish Department


With an ever-increasing world population and the wild fishery now fully exploited, aquaculture provides exciting new opportunities to utilize marine resources while conserving our 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 research that aims to solve key problems in culturing marine fishes for human consumption or the ornamental trade. Toward this goal, the research 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.
The 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, with recent accolades received for the first-ever captive rearing of flame angelfish.

In support of rearing spawned eggs through the 30-day larval period, the Live Feeds Team is engaged in culturing planktonic organisms, including a variety of microalgae and crustacean species, upon which larvae feed. Recent success in culturing a marine calanoid copepod, known as Parvocalanus, may have just revolutionized 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 with industry, the state of Hawai‘i, and the UH Sea Grant testing large submersible offshore cages for commercial growout of moi and other foodfish species to harvest size. After two successful growout cycles using a 2600m3 submersible cage system, we are actively engaged in support and transfer of this technology to industry.

Since the opening of our state-of-the art demonstration hatchery facility late in 2002, the Production Hatchery Team has generated nearly four million moi fingerlings in their role of testing marine finfish culture technologies at commercial scales of operation. It now assisting in the transfer this technology to the commercial sector for the expansion of offshore aquaculture ventures and assists land-based operations employing Hawaiian fishponds and secondary school facilities.

Our 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. We are uniquely positioned as Hawai‘i is home to more than 85 percent of all coral reefs in the U.S. and supports the diverse species base required for a comparative, multi-species approach.

Besides providing undergraduate opportunities, HPU’s recently launched Master of Science in Marine Science program has students doing graduate research within the Finfish Department. HPU students are invited to take advantage of newly developed OI-HPU course initiatives in aquaculture and coastal resource management or directly participate as interns or volunteers to learn new technologies and to provide meaningful contributions to ongoing research projects.

In future Kalamalama issues we will continue to share more about the exciting new affiliation between OI and HPU and discuss some of the ongoing research being conducted at OI, often with HPU students’ help. To learn more, visit www.hpu.edu, or OI’s Web site at www.oceanicinstitute.org, or e-mail Gary Karr, OI’s Director of Education, gkarr@oceanicinstitute.org.





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