Green Wave Farming In Hawaii

50years Ago Pretty Much Everything We Ate From The Sea Was Wild. Now Over Half Of What We Eat Is Farmed.[1] Is It Time The State Of Hawaii Starts Looking More Seriously Into Its Aquaculture Potential?

By Jordan Caputy, Published 2016.11.25 11:01pm

Mr. Bren Smith, a lifelong commercial fisherman, pioneering the development of restorative 3D ocean farming might say it is. Mr. Bren Smith’s humble beginnings of not being able to make ends meet after the Atlantic’s cod stock crash in the 1990s brought him through a series of trial and error aquacultural endeavors from aquaculture farms in northern Canada to becoming an oysterman in the State of New York. After losing his farm to one of the worst East coast hurricanes on record he realized it was time to adapt. In the words of Mr. Bren Smith “let’s dive in and take a look at the farm and deconstruct why it’s designed the way it is. Imagine a vertical underwater garden with hurricane-proof anchors on the edges connected by floating horizontal ropes across the surface. From these lines kelp and Gracilaria and other kinds of seaweeds grow vertically downward next to scallops in hanging nets that look like Japanese lanterns and mussels held in suspension in mesh socks. Staked below the vertical garden are oysters in cages and then clams buried in the sea floor.”[2] Now ““If we are going to move offshore with aquaculture, we should do it right and make sure the right policies and regulations are in place.” “Modern agriculture developed without a lot of oversight and regulation, leading us to a lot of our current problems with pollution from fertilizers and pesticides. We don’t want to repeat the same mistakes in the water.” In its report, the independent Marine Aquaculture Task Force also recommended streamlining and simplifying permitting and application processes; market-based incentives for businesses to invest in sustainable, ecologically sound fish-farming projects; as well as funding and incentives for research, development, and deployment of technologies and techniques for sustainable fish farming.””[3] Luckily the economies of the old world are beginning to crumble and communities are beginning to see their potential responsibility. The Green Wave initiative address three major questions: “First, how do we replicate and scale our farming model so that it doesn’t become a carbon copy of industrial factory farming? Second, how do we build the infrastructure to create new ownership models to ensure that farmers capture the value chain and that the principles of equity and social justice are woven into the fabric of the ocean economy? Third, how do we create new kinds of economic relationships among growers and buyers and consumers?”4 These are the questions that resonate with the people of Hawaii. “SMAs or Special Management Areas are shoreline and coastal water related lands, inland from the “shoreline” (usually 300 ft.) which have been designated by individual counties. No development can occur within the SMA unless a permit is obtained from the county. Permits will be granted only if the development will not have substantial adverse impacts on the environment and is consistent with the State’s Coastal Zone Management Program (CZMP) and the county general plan and zoning ordinances. State statute also designates a Shoreline Setback from 20 to 40 feet landward from the shoreline (counties can extend the setback requirement further by ordinance). Construction or land disturbing activity is prohibited within the Shoreline Setback Area (SSA) unless a Shoreline Setback Variance (SSV) is obtained from the County.”[4] With a bit of due diligence and research regarding acceptable flora and fauna in the Hawaiian marine ecosystem it is more than possible to set up a Green Wave 3D Ocean farm off the coastal areas of the Hawaiian Archipelago.

In addressing the darker truth regarding Aquaculture. Aquaculture uses a public resource our world’s oceans for private gain. You are burdening the local oceanic environments to absorb waste. The trick is to not cut corners and to develop systems unique to the environment in which they are placed. The coastal waters off the Hawaiian archipelago are and should be fiercely protected yet, “if there is one lesson we should learn from the 2015 water wars in California, it’s that our food system is going to be driven out to sea. Yes, we need marine parks, but we could set aside the entire world’s oceans, and our ocean ecosystems would still die. Conservation alone is no longer environmentalism.”4 Using the template of the Green Wave Farming Initiative set forth by Mr. Bren Smith Hawaii’s local communities can develop a self contained environmentally beneficial system that in turn creates some controlled waste but more importantly scrubs the Pacific Ocean of CO2 while providing sea food yields for the local community and abroad. Current environmental initiatives and local legislation support the fruition of local Aquacultural initiatives here in the State of Hawaii.





  1. Abbott, Isabella A. Limu. Lawai Kaui, Hawaii: National Tropical Botanical Garden. Fourth Edition 1996
  2. Deep Sea Fish Farming in Geodesic Domes:Upgrade, by Motherboard, 12/18/14, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpPZUGIJ2M0
  3. An Army of Ocean Farmers: On the Frontlines of the Blue- Green Economic Revolution, Rural America, by Bren Smith, February 26, 2016, http://www.inthesetimes.com
  4. New Regulations Proposed for Offshore Fish Farms, Oceanus Magazine, by Michael Carlowiez, 05/25/2007, http://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/feature/new-regulations-proposed-for-offshore-fish-farms
  5. PERMITS AND REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS FOR AQUACULTURE IN HAWAII, by Aquaculture Planning & Advocacy, LLC September 1, 2011 , https://hdoa.hawaii.gov/ai/files/2013/03/Permits-and-Regulatory-Requirements-For-Aquaculture-in-Hawaii-2011-Final.pdf