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Aquaculture in the Pacific Islands

Aquaculture is a strategy that can help meet increasing global demand for seafood, support commercial and recreational fisheries, and restore species and marine habitat.

750x500-hawaiian-net-pen-Blue-Ocean-Mariculture.jpg Net pen aquaculture in Kona, Hawai'i Island. Credit: Blue Ocean Mariculture.

The NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Regional Office works with the industry and research partners to develop, evaluate, and transfer appropriate offshore aquaculture technologies. Our goals are to promote simplified regulatory processes in cooperation with state and other responsible federal agencies, and to facilitate improved regulatory guidance for loko i‘a (fishpond) practitioners. 

NOAA and the Department of Commerce released national aquaculture policies that guide federal actions and decisions on aquaculture and provide a national approach for supporting sustainable aquaculture. 

Regulation & Policy

Proposed Aquaculture Management Program

NOAA Fisheries is preparing a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement in coordination with the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council to analyze the potential environmental effects of a proposed Pacific Islands aquaculture management program and alternatives. The program would support an environmentally sound and economically sustainable aquaculture industry in federal waters (beyond 3 nmi from shore) of the Pacific Islands region. The program would be implemented by amending the Council’s five fishery ecosystem plans used to manage fisheries in the region. 

Regional Activities

Permit Application for Loko I‘a (Hawaiian Fishponds)

NOAA Fisheries, along with other state and federal agencies and nonprofit organizations, supported the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) developing a master permit for loko i‘a that encompasses the extensive permits previously required. DLNR published the Ho‘āla Loko I‘a Guidebook, a resource to help cultural practitioners, landowners, and community groups navigate the new streamlined application process for Hawaiian fishpond revitalization.

Special Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit for the Culture of Kampachi

In July 2016, the NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Regional Office completed its environmental review and issued a Special Coral Reef Ecosystem Fishing Permit (SCREFP) to Kampachi Farms, LLC., to allow the culture and harvest of almaco jack (Seriola rivoliana), or kampachi, using a net pen system. The net pen is tethered to an existing mooring located in federal waters approximately 5.5 nmi west of Keauhou Bay on the Island of Hawai‘i. The permit authorizes the culture and harvest of up to 30,000 kampachi or approximately 120,000 lb. This permit was transferred to Forever Oceans in 2017 and has since been renewed as they continue to research system designs and monitoring for offshore aquaculture operations. For more information, view the Final Environmental Assessment and SCREFP.

Funding Opportunities

NOAA and other federal agencies administer a variety of competitive grant programs and other financial assistance programs targeted to the development of sustainable aquaculture in the United States. Areas of interest include aquaculture research, technology development, and the commercial development of the domestic aquaculture industry. Please visit the Office of Aquaculture Funding Opportunities page for more information.

Learn about past aquaculture projects funded in the Pacific Islands region




Understanding Marine Aquaculture

The United States has a small and vibrant commercial marine aquaculture industry supported by world class research and technology.


Last updated by Pacific Islands Regional Office on January 14, 2021