Hawaii Sustainable Fisheries Development

The goal of the HSFD project is to generate new information, technologies, and products to assist both fishery management and marine finfish aquaculture development in Hawaii and throughout the U.S.

The approach is to develop core technologies in broodstock, live feeds, larviculture, and growout systems for economically significant, warm-water marine fish species.

Recent Issues Addressed:
The HSFD Project has been continuing to develop aquaculture technologies for amberjack (an important new aquaculture species with huge economic potential in the U.S.) and for several "at-risk" coral reef species (yellow tang and pygmy angelfish) that are equally critical to the health of coral reef ecosystems and major species in the marine ornamental trade.

Areas of focus included:

  • Development of domesticated stocks of amberjack through captive breeding and improvement of long-term stock health and egg production.
  • Design and building of a replicated broodstock culture system to conduct research on stock husbandry and reproduction of critical coral reef species such as the yellow tang and pygmy angelfishes.
  • Establishment of a process to reliably culture microscopic zooplankton (copepods) as a source of food for the larval life stage of previously uncultivable marine fishes.
  • Testing of this new zooplankton food on several marine species having extremely small larvae.

Recent Achievements, Results or Findings:
Recently there was considerable advance in all major areas of focus. Notable accomplishments include:

  • The first-ever domestication of amberjack broodstock, with multiple generations now spawning in captivity. Although seasonal in the wild, these stocks are spawning year-round in captivity. Feeding raw "natural" diets (fish, squid, shrimp) to the fish decreased broodstock's fat accumulation, but unfortunately introduced naturally occurring disease-causing pathogens from the wild fishery. In response, we have begun to formulate a specific broodstock diet that is highly nutritious and free of disease causing organisms.
  • A replicated broodstock holding system for marine ornamental species was designed and built, providing a unique capability to examine the effects of diet and environmental conditions on reproduction and health.
  • A small-scale, intensive (high-density) culture system for growing copepods was successfully operated over the year, achieving record copepod densities and the consistency of output necessary to advance.
  • Copepod-based larval rearing technology was validated with the rearing of record numbers of difficult-to-rear marine finfish, including red snapper, bluefin trevally, and flame angelfish, thus illustrating the potential for this diet technology to greatly increase the number of cultivable species worldwide.
  • Brought together leaders in copepod culture and protein replacement in aquaculture feeds through the Aquaculture Interchange Program for two very successful international workshops.

Impact of Recent Achievements:
HSFD research efforts on amberjack have created considerable excitement in the evolving opportunity to farm amberjack in Hawaii.

The establishment of domesticated stocks, year-round spawning, and hatchery production of fingerlings has set the stage for research that takes this emerging technology to commercial level of output and reliability.

Our optimism is strengthened with the recent stocking of several thousand amberjack in commercial offshore cages in Hawaii.

The development of HSFD funded copepod technologies has opened the door for culture of many important high-value marine fish species, including groupers, snapper, and coral reef species such as the flame angelfish and potentially the yellow tang.

This will create new economic opportunities for the culture of fish for both food and the aquarium industry and will help conserve overexploited ocean resources.

Future Plans:
HSFD researchers will continue to develop amberjack culture technologies to achieve pilot commercial-scale production capability. The focus will be on testing  large-scale water reuse tanks for holding broodstock, and continued hatchery research to increase fingerling output to levels necessary for potential commercial startup.

Having proven copepod culture as a viable concept, efforts will now focus on improving copepod production methods and scaling up operations to levels that are required for economically viable commercial adoption.

With the successful production of previously uncultivable coral reef fish species, researchers will continue efforts to better understand nutritional and environmental factors important to captive spawning and will direct greater effort toward spawning and rearing the yellow tang.

Finally, OI researchers will initiate work on tuna culture through preliminary effort to hold captive stocks and achieve spawning in captivity.

The Aquaculture Interchange Program will continue to provide forums for international dialogue between research leaders and will produce state-of-the art reviews in biosecurity and ecosystems management.