Aquaculture A-Team

Hawaii Geek Meet IIIBenny Ron is a one man tour de force. He is the Aquaculture Coordinator at the University of Hawaii and runs Aquaculture Hub. I caught him at Geek Meet III this past weekend at Ala Moana, Magic Island. Accompanying Benny in this photo is Shai Shafir and Yoko. It was fun watching them touting their laptops with their aquaculture presentation in hand. Only something a true geek would do. While he was showing me his preso, I asked him what he thought of the report released last week by Food & Water Watch which was hyper critical of the fledgling aquaculture industry in Hawaii. He felt it was steeped in misinformation and pointed me to a video conversation he had with Jay Fidell of Think Tech. Obviously passionate about this topic he and Jay get into a detailed discussion about the opportunity open ocean aquaculture has for creating food security for Hawaii.  It's a very interesting listen. Benny Ron on Finding a Way for Aquaculture in Hawaii from Jay Fidell. During Bytemarks Cafe last week (Apr. 14, 2010) we covered the story about FWW's report and asked Bill Spencer, CEO of Hawaii Oceanic Technologies Inc. to weigh in on the report. He wrote:
A highly funded, Washington, DC lobby organization, Food and Water Watch (FWW), is mounting a frontal attack on Hawaii State policy that supports open ocean mariculture. They have rallied a motley crew of rag tag environmental groups, paid many of them to attack a growing sector of our economy that is on the verge of showing the world a way to produce seafood that is environmentally responsible. This group of activists are disseminating miss-leading information that paints a picture of Hawaii’s small ocean farming businesses as harbingers of huge factory fish farms that pollute our ocean with horrible chemicals, antibiotics and fish poop. Food and Water Watch purports a host of problems with mariculture even though the industry is in its infancy in Hawaii, and none of their claims can be proven, only imagined by creative writers and spin doctors. The opportunity for a company to grow fish in Hawaiian territorial waters has been a matter of law for ten years. It has been seen as a potential economic engine that could put fishermen back to work, create thousands of jobs and even new businesses in support of the effort.
Federal policy is also being crafted that will affect the aquaculture industry and NOAA is touring the country soliciting public feedback on the issue. They were here this week and Ben Markus from Hawaii Public Radio did this piece. Jay Fidell also wrote this article that ran in Sunday's Honolulu Advertiser. Hawaii could potentially offer a lot to Hawaii's food security and the diet of fish eating public with a viable aquaculture industry. The reality is, the oceans are being fished out and novel ways need to be established to sustain this food source. Why not aquaculture and why not here in Hawaii. The steps we take at this formative stage of the industry could mean the difference between success and failure.