Offshore Fish Farm Receives Key Permit


Hawaii Oceanic Technology, Inc. has been issued permit HI-0028140 in accordance with the provisions of the Clean Water Act, Hawaii Revised Statutes, Chapter 342D; and Hawaii Administrative Rules as administered by the Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH).

In a letter dated March 30, 2012, the DOH stated that it has “reviewed the (company’s) application for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, and that after consideration of the expressed views of all interested persons and agencies, pertinent Federal and State statutes and rules regarding the discharge, the DOH hereby issues the NPDES permit effective April 30, 2012.”

This comprehensive process took the company more than a year of effort and required a thorough public review and response to comments from the public and several NGOs.

Bill Spencer, President and CEO of Hawaii Oceanic Technology, Inc. said, “once again we have been held to
the highest possible standard imposed by yet another regulatory requirement and have been granted permission to proceed with our business plan.”

The company has spent more than five years and $2 million complying with permitting requirements imposed by the State of Hawaii and the U.S. Federal Government. The company prepared a full Environmental Impact Statement and Cultural Assessment to obtain a Conservation District Use Permit, required to get its 247 acre ocean lease, which was granted October 2010. Additional Federal permits included a Federal Consistency Review permit, the EPA/NPDES permit and an Army Corp Section 10 permit that has been in process since September 2010.

The Army Corp permit is the last permit required before the company can execute its business plan.

Spencer said, “the permitting process has been tedious and expensive, but the company is proud to have been held to such high standards. We are now more than five years ahead of any other company contemplating doing an open ocean fish farming business in Hawaii.”

Spencer noted however, that “if the United States is serious about food security and reversing the almost $14 billion dollar trade deficit it maintains from the importation of 85% of seafood we consume, the regulatory requirements must be streamlined and the burden on entrepreneurs should be reduced significantly.”

At present, the United States does not have a comprehensive regulatory framework to allow open ocean fish
farming in its 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone. Hawaii is one of a very few states that allows the lease of an ocean column for mariculture.

Spencer said, “farming fish in the ocean is essentially the only way increasing global demand for seafood protein can be met.”

According to the United Nations Food Agriculture Organization, half of all seafood consumed in the world is already being farmed. The world’s oceans have reached maximum sustainable yield and some species of tunas and others fish are seriously distressed in the wild with some facing extinction. Scientists estimate that farmed seafood production must be increased by another 62 million tons annually over the next 20 years in order to meet world appetite for this healthy source of protein.

In 1983 famed ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau declared, “we must plant the sea as farmers… civilization is all about farming replacing hunting.”

A copy of the permit, rationale and response to public comments can be found on the Hawaii State Department of Health/Clean Water Branch web site here:

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