Aquaculture in the Pacific Islands
Aquaculture can help meet increasing demands for seafood, support commercial and recreational fisheries, and restore species and marine habitat.
The NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Regional Office works with the aquaculture industry and research partners to develop, evaluate, and transfer appropriate 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 in Federal waters.
Policy & Regulation
Aquaculture Management Program
NOAA Fisheries has prepared a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), in coordination with the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, to analyze the potential environmental effects of a potential Pacific Islands aquaculture management program and alternatives. Such a program would support an environmentally sound and economically sustainable aquaculture industry in Federal waters of the Pacific Islands. The Council would establish the program by amending their five fishery ecosystem plans, used to manage fisheries in the region, and NOAA Fisheries would implement the program through regulations, education, and monitoring.
Marine Mammal Authorization Program Certificate
The Pacific Islands Regional Office automatically issues the MMAP Certificate to each marine aquaculture operation that may incidentally kill or injure an MMPA stock because the commercial Hawaiʻi aquaculture fishery is classified as a Category II fishery under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. A valid MMAP Certificate must be kept at the main place of business.
- 2023 MMAP Letter and Certificate (PDF, 2 pages)
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 was 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 authorized 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 expired in December 2021. During the permit period, Forever Oceans researched system designs and monitoring for offshore aquaculture operations. For more information, view the Final Environmental Assessment and SCREFP.
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.
- Pacific Islands Region Offshore Aquaculture Permitting Guide
- NOAA Aquaculture Program Newsletters
- NOAA NOS Ocean Today Aquaculture
- Ho‘āla Loko I‘a Guidebook
- Aquaculture Opportunity Areas (AOAs)