By April Forristall, SeafoodSource assistant editor
Published on 05 January, 2010
Kona Blue Water Farms on Wednesday announced plans to sell its offshore aquaculture operations in Hawaii to a newly formed company headed by the president of open-ocean cage producer Ocean Spar.
Todd Madsen, president of Ocean Spar and Keahole Point Fish, told SeafoodSource that the plan is to recapitalize the offshore fish farm. The two companies will partner, with Kona Blue continuing to provide fingerlings as well as biology and research support and Keahole assuming responsibility for reconfiguring the net-pen arrangement and daily operations of the site.
Madsen said Kona Blue will also continue to provide marketing support for all Kona Kampachi® produced. Kampachi is a yellowtail relative.
Kona has applied to the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources to reassign its 90-acre mariculture lease to Keahole. Kona in October announced it is expanding its operations to Mexico.
According to Madsen, in the next three to four months the company will remove Kona’s existing net pens and replace them with fewer but larger, next-generation cages, as well as deploy a new fleet of work vessels, which he hopes will make the Hawaii operations more efficient, reduce costs and improve consistency.
“We think that Hawaii can and should be a center of excellence for mariculture and seafood,” said Madsen. “There are great species, great water and it’s reasonably closely located to the mainland U.S. And we think it will work.”
“Our Keahole Point Fish partners bring to this operation a wealth of experience in open-ocean fish farming, commercial fishing and processing,” said Neil Sims, president of Kona Blue. “They have the capital and the capabilities needed to implement our planned reconfiguration of the offshore site.”
Spinning off the offshore grow-out operation is the first step in implementing Kona Blue’s plans for developing a network of third-party Kona Kampachi growers. The company is also looking for other third-party growers to partner with in the United States or other areas of the Americas.
Under the partnership agreement, Keahole Point Fish will adhere to Kona Blue’s rigorous standards for sustainability of feeds, operating procedures and product quality.