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April 30, 2019
Aquaculture Opportunities in Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Hawaii
Credit: University of Hawaii

Aquaculture, which is the cultivation and harvest of aquatic plants and animals, continues to be viewed as a growth industry and ideal opportunity for the U.S. Pacific islands given the high local demand for seafood, heavy reliance on seafood importation, and the call for food security and sustainable strategies for island economies. Aquaculture projects can range from backyard projects for personal consumption to small or large-scale profitable commercial farms.

In 2017, Hawaii aquaculture sales were $76.4 million. Aquacultured species include freshwater prawns, marine shrimp, seaweeds, tilapia, catfish, carp, oysters, clams, rainbow trout, salmon, abalone, mahimahi, koi, moi (Pacific threadfin), snails, frogs and microalgae. Guam produced 111 tons of seafood from aquaculture in 2012, including freshwater prawn, marine shrimp, eel, tilapia, carp, catfish, milkfish, mangrove crab, mullet and ornamental carp. Aquaculture production in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa include primarily backyard farms and a few commercial farms. Aquacultured species include tilapia, marine shrimp, and giant clam.

Hawaii Launches First Aquaculture Accelerator
Interested Start Ups Encouraged to Apply

Credit: Hawaii Governor’s Office

On April 17, Hawaii Governor David Ige announced Hawaii’s first aquaculture accelerator that aims to attract startups on sustainable solutions for the aquaculture industry. The accelerator will be based at the National Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA) Ocean Science and Technology Park in Kailua-Kona on Hawaii Island. It will be will be run by HATCH, the world’s first sustainable aquaculture accelerator with operations in Norway and Singapore. The accelerator will initially be fully funded for three years and is expected to nurture three cohorts of 10 to 12 globally relevant aquaculture technology startups per year. $4.5 million each year has been provided by the State of Hawaii and the federal Economic Development Administration. Interested startups are encouraged to apply at:

“This effort is very much in line with our administration’s ongoing focus to build an innovation-based economy, advance the state’s commitment to sustainability and add tie-in to initiatives,” said Gov. David Ige. See full story.

Aquaculture Resources for the U.S. Pacific Islands

The Guam Aquaculture Training and Development Center

Credit: University of Guam

The Guam Aquaculture Training and Development Center, also known as the Fadian Hatchery, is the largest and oldest aquaculture center in the Western Pacific. It was originally built as a private facility designed to produce fish and eel fry for the Asian market and was transferred to the Government of Guam in 1986 and to the University of Guam in 2001.

For further information, please contact: Dr. Hui Gong Jiang, Agriculture & Life Sciences Building, Room 215, University of Guam, UOG Station, Mangilao, Guam 96923, Phone: (671) 735-2144, Email:

American Samoa Aquaculture Program

Credit: Paolo Marra-Briggs

As American Samoa strives to develop aquaculture, the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources collaborates with the American Samoa Community College, the University of Hawaii Sea Grant program, the Oceanic Institute, USDA, the Center for Tropical and Subtropical Aquaculture, and other partners to identify aquaculture opportunities.

For further information, please contact: Domingo Ochavilla, Chief Fishery Biologist, Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources, Phone: (684) 633-4456; Kelley Anderson Tagarino, Aquaculture & Marine Science, University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program, American Samoa Community College, Phone: (684) 699-3353; or Francis Leiato, Agriculture Community and Natural Resources, American Samoa Community College Land Grant, Phone: (684) 699-3353.

Northern Marianas Aquaculture Development Center

Aquaculture in the CNMI Credit: CTSA

For further information, please contact: Michael Ogo, Aquaculture Extension and Research, Northern Marianas College, Phone: (670) 237-6847, Email:

Hawaii Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture Program

Big Island Abalone Credit: CTSA

The Aquaculture and Livestock Support Services (ALSS), a branch of the Animal Industry Division of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, generates diversified agriculture solutions for moving Hawaii towards greater food self-sufficiency, and fosters viable export industries. ALSS provides a broad range of support to new and existing aquaculture and livestock businesses through planning and coordination, business counseling, and information dissemination efforts.

For further information, please contact: Leo Obaldo, PhD, Acting Manager, Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture & Livestock Support Services, State of Hawaii, Phone: (808) 483.7130, Email:

The Natural Energy of Hawaii Authority

The mission of the Natural Energy of Hawaii Authority (NELHA) is to develop and diversify the Hawaii economy by providing resources and facilities for energy and ocean-related research, education, and commercial activities in an environmentally sound and culturally sensitive manner.

For further information, please contact NELHA at 73-987 Makako Bay Drive Kailua Kona, Hawaii 96740, Phone: (808) 327-9585, Email:

Other Aquaculture and Economic Development Resources

Center for Tropical and Subtropical Aquaculture

The Center for Tropical and Subtropical Aquaculture (CTSA), based in Hawaii, is one of five regional aquaculture centers in the United States established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The regional aquaculture centers integrate individual and institutional expertise and resources in support of commercial aquaculture development.

For further information, please contact: Cheng-Sheng Lee, Ph.D., Executive Director, University of Hawaii, Manoa Campus (808) 956-3385, Ag. Sci. 216 Oceanic Institute, (808) 259-3107

University of Hawaii

The ten campuses of the University of Hawaii System provide important expertise and infrastructure for aquaculture development in the State.

University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program

The UH Sea Grant College Program offers “hands-on” extension assistance throughout the State. The Program also funds innovative aquaculture research every year, usually in partnership with the State.

Hawaii Pacific University – Oceanic Institute

The Oceanic Institute is a not-for-profit research and development organization dedicated to marine aquaculture, biotechnology, and coastal resource management. Its mission is to develop and transfer economically responsible technologies to increase aquatic food production while promoting the sustainable use of ocean resources.


The goal of AquacultureHub is to help advance the development and implementation of aquaculture programs that promote food security and food safety, involving collaboration between both internal and external entities relevant to Hawaii’ s movement towards sustainable aquaculture.

Aquaculture Training for On-Line Learning (ATOLL) Program

The ATOLL program consists of four courses with more than 60 videos and digital games to give viewers an understanding of: Aquaculture and fisheries management, Aquaponics concepts and systems, Basic water chemistry, water quality, fish health and nutrition, and Basic biology, genetics, coral farming, reef ecology, marketing and business.

NOAA Aquaculture

The Office of Aquaculture of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) addresses regulatory and policy issues related to marine aquaculture in federal waters such as permit consultations with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency on endangered species, fish habitat, and marine mammal protection.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)/Aquaculture

USDA’s Aquaculture Program provides data and statistics on the U.S. aquaculture industry including production, inventory, market trends, sales, prices, inputs, and trade of catfish, trout, tilapia, salmon, mollusks, crawfish, shrimp, ornamental fish and new species. It has aquaculture national health monitoring system, and aquaculture research grants and extension programs.

USDA, Rural Development Business Development Grants

USDA’s Rural Development program is a competitive grant designed to support targeted technical assistance, training and other activities leading to the development or expansion of small and emerging private businesses in rural areas which will employ 50 or fewer new employees and has less than $1 million in gross revenue.

Office of Insular Affairs Technical Assistance Program, U.S. Dept. of the Interior

OIA’s Technical Assistance Program provides grant funding for short-term projects intended to meet the immediate needs of the insular areas. Funding priorities include, but are not limited to: accountability, financial management, economic development, education, energy production, management control initiatives, disaster assistance, natural and cultural resources, capacity building, public safety/emergencies, health initiatives, and invasive species management.

Administration for Native Americans, Social & Economic Development Strategies (SEDS)

The Administration for Native Americans promotes social and economic self-sufficiency in communities, including Pacific Islanders, through SEDS grants. These competitive financial assistance grants support locally determined projects designed to reduce or eliminate community problems and achieve community goals.

Aquaculture in the Region
Palau unveils newly improved mariculture center

Credit: Seafood Source

By Bernadette Carreon, Seafood Source
April 22, 2019

The North Pacific island nation of Palau unveiled what it is calling the largest giant clam seed production center in the world on 12 April.

The newly renovated mariculture center, expanded through a USD 6.6 million (EUR 5.9 million) grant from the Japanese government, can now produce an estimated one million seedlings a year.

Renovations of the facility began in 2016, and the new center includes a marine resource library, more office space for staff and technicians, two research labs, a gift shop, and a seedling facility that will increase production from 200,000 seedlings before the modernization.

Palau Natural Resources, Environment, and Tourism Minister Umiich Sengebau said the giant clam represents a “keystone species for domestic food security and artisanal livelihoods for Palauans.”

“This new PMDC will play a vital role in supporting both of these aspects of our lives, promoting livelihood, diversification, and strengthening our ability to provide fresh, sustainably grown local specialties to our residents and visiting populations,” Sengebau said.

Sengebau said the center will take the pressure off wild fisheries and is another source of livelihood for a small country such as Palau. He said the new facility will also assist some locals farmers make more money from giant clams that exported for the aquarium trade and help support to restock the wild population of the slow-growing clams in the country.

Farming giant clams can be a slow process and theft has been the main challenge faced by the farmers in Palau.

Palau’s Bureau of Marine Resources (BMR) Director Leon Remengesau said the current seedlings are expected to grow to up to three centimeters in length and will be ready for distribution by September 2019.

Director Remengesau said the giant clam aquarium trade can be a lucrative business for many locals, with a single farmer reportedly earning USD 80,000 (EUR 71,100) per year. The giant clams are mostly exported to the United States, Germany, China, Singapore, Austria, and England.

According to a 2017 government report, 90 percent of giant clams exported that year were used for commercial purposes, with 10 percent for personal use and 1 percent for scientific purposes. In 2017, there were 12,771 giant clams exported from Palau.

Aquaculture in Palau: Sustainability Within Reach

Credit: CTSA

About PBDC

The Pacific Basin Development Council, established in 1980 by the governors of Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), and Hawaii, is a regional non-profit organization that advances economic and social development in the Pacific Islands. The organization, which is based in Hawaii, is located at the East-West Center.

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