Kauai shrimp farm input still sought

LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) – Kauai environmentalists and business interests are clashing over whether to renew a federal permit that would allow a shrimp farm to continue discharging effluent into the ocean.

Sunrise Capital, a unit of the Missouri-based Integrated Aquaculture International, wants to renew its Environmental Protection Agency permit for a shrimp farm in Kekaha.

Sunrise currently produces white shrimp at its facility, mainly for local consumption and breeding stock for export. The firm has plans to produce everything from kahala, moi, oysters, clams, seaweed and algae to produce jet fuel.

George Chamberlain, a founder of Integrated Aquaculture International, told about 50 people gathered at a public hearing Wednesday that the effluent discharge ”has no impact,” according to the Kauai Garden Island.

Other supporters, who comprised about half of the audience, were focused on economic concerns.

”We need those jobs again,” said Tony Ricci, a resident. He contended critics are blowing out of proportion potential problems with discharges.

But other residents and representatives of environmental groups criticized the permit renewal.

Rayne Regush of the Kauai branch of the Sierra Club said her organization opposes the company’s application. If it were renewed, she said the frequency of monitoring should be increased, water-quality testing should also look for bacteria, and monitoring data should be made available online to the public.

Kekaha farm owner has plans for much more than shrimp

WAIMEA — Blessed with some of the purest seawater in the world and sunny growing conditions, the owners of the Kekaha shrimp farm have big plans for their small operation.

Currently producing white shrimp mainly for local consumption and broodstock for export around the world, Sunrise Capital, owned by the Mainland-based Integrated Aquaculture International, has plans to eventually produce everything from kahala, moi, oysters, clams, seaweed, even algae to produce jet fuel.

That makes them, as Dr. Carl Berg of Lihu‘e says, a concentrated aquatic animal production facility, something Dr. George Chamberlain agrees with.

Chamberlain is a director of Integrated Aquaculture International and president of the Global Aquaculture Alliance (gaalliance.org), and conducted a two-hour informational meeting about the Kekaha aquaculture farm at the Waimea Theatre, just before a state Department of Health public hearing on the farm’s application for a permit necessary to discharge farm effluent into the ocean.

The DOH will either approve or deny the continuation of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit, required by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and monitored by DOH.

Sustainability earns honors

HAIKU – Lloyd Fischel lives with thousands of golden tilapia in his backyard.

Although he could make a business off of harvesting the fish, he keeps the critters in their two large fishponds for educating students and the community about science and how to be sustainable.

“I think the message is anybody can grow fish or vegetables in a small yard for little cost,” Fischel said.

In the past six years he has been pushing that message as hundreds of students have visited his 2-acre Haiku property.

For his efforts, Lanikai Farms last month received a Heroes of Agriculture, Food and Environment award from the 2010 Hawaii Agriculture Conference “Celebrating Change” on Oahu.

Fischel was one of 10 groups of Mauians receiving awards. (See box). Fischel, who works with his partner, Karen Klemme, placed in the Food Business or School Doing Business With Excellence category. The conference was hosted by the Agricultural Leadership Foundation of Hawaii.

While Fischel, who is also president of the Maui Farmers Union, said he was humbled by the award and pointed to the achievements of the other winners, he feels he has a good program he wants to bring to the public.