A sewage treatment plant may not be everyone's idea of a dream location but Dr. Kevin Hopkins, Professor of Aquaculture at the University of Hawaii saw beyond the obvious. For more than a decade he has labored to see his dream of turning a wastewater treatment plant into a world-class aquaculture facility become a reality; finally, it has.
Representatives from local government, Hawaii aquaculture and the local community gathered last week for a traditional Hawaiian blessing at the new University of Hawai`i at Hilo's Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center (PACRC) at Keaukaha, on the Big Island of Hawaii.
The new research facility will support aquaculture and marine science programs at UH Hilo, commercial aquaculture and fisheries and even eco-tourism in east Hawaii. Initially, Hopkins says, the facility will focus on ornamental fish culture and the cultivation of pearl oysters.
In addition to the 12-acre coastal site in Keaukaha, PACRC will occupy an 8-acre inland site at the UH research farm in Panaewa 6 miles away that will serve as a quarantine facility and for research into health management and integrated agriculture-aquaculture farming systems.
Hilo offers a unique environment for aquaculture research. It is one of the few places in the world where warm seawater, warm freshwater and deep cold seawater can be readily obtained. Additionally, a wide range of aquatic habitats ranging from tide pools, estuaries, coral reefs, rocky shorelines, and the deep open ocean occur within a mile or two of the Center.
The UH research farm at Panaewa is also the location of Oceanic Institute's planned pilot production feed mill (See: Oceanic Institute feeds research lab on course for 2004)