Fish of the Future
As evidenced by our company name, we put our heart and soul into our premium fish -- Kampachi. But that doesn't stop us from constantly searching for the "next big thing".
We're currently working with several other species at our Kona research site, ranging from plate-sized herbivores such as Nenue (Kyphosus spp.) to gargantuan beasts like the very valuable and ecologically threatened Giant Grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus).
Many in the aquaculture industry have pursued enhanced sustainability by formulating "vegitarian" diets for carnivorous fish... but few have focused on growing a high-quality herbivore. Herbivorous fish are less widely appreciated, but in Hawaii a local reef herbivore, the Nenue, has always been prized as a foodfish. These seaweed-grazers have a fantastically efficient ruminant-like gut, which allows them to digest and utilize protein sources that other animals cannot. Cultured nenue could therefore potentially be grown on a highly sustainable and economical diet including algae, agricultural byproducts and other plant-based materials. Perhaps most importantly, the fish tastes great and is very healthy. We hope to begin feeds and hatchery trials with this species later this year.
The Giant Grouper is the largest species of bony fish found on coral reefs, growing to sizes in excess of 1,000lbs in the wild. Unfortunately, this impressive animal has been largely extirpated across most of its range, primarily due to overfishing. Originally of commercial interest, we found this species to be difficult to rear beyond the fingerling stage due to its "picky" feeding habits. However, having succeeded in developing hatchery protocols, we felt we had an obligation to apply this hard-won knowledge to conserving this charismatic but highly vullnerable species.
Our grouper program is now purely focused on this conservation effort, and we are determined to see this species restablished in its natural habitats. We are therefore assisting several island communities across the Pacific, from the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas to Fiji, in establishing their own stock enhancement programs. With a captive breeding population of Giant Groupers here in Kona, we are able to send eggs, fingerlings, and juveniles to our partners overseas, and hope to help some communities establish their own breeding programs in the future.