Policy Study

Catching the Aquaculture Wave

Executive Summary

The island chain of Hawaii is poised on the leading edge of the development of the legal and technical frameworks necessary for open-ocean cage fishfarming. One offshore farm is up and running, and another has all the permits and licenses and is just waiting for the final rounds of financing. As these operations and other potential operators mature and grow, and with the right legal and regulatory reforms, Hawaii has the potential to lead the nation in quality offshore oceanic fish cultivation. This could be a tremendous boon to both Hawaii’s economy and its general entrepreneurial climate.

Yet many obstacles remain. Despite studies that show no measurable impact to the environment of the aquaculture already in operation, misplaced fears based on other situations and technologies coupled with a stifling, extended bureaucratic process that allows individuals to contest the permit process with or without reasonable cause hampers Hawaii’s chance to develop offshore fishfarming and expand its shrunken economy. This report explores case studies of fishfarming in Hawaii and how the state could reap economic benefits while guarding local waters against environmental impact. With a streamlining of its bureaucracy, Hawaii could soon lead the nation in offshore oceanic fish cultivation, spelling success for its citizens as well as take pressure off of wild stocks of depleted fish populations. It would also powerfully demonstrate how human ingenuity, properly channeled through free enterprise, could sustainably feed people and maintain, or even enhance, a healthy environment.