Kona Blue fires back at F&WW


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
June 7, 2009

Kona Blue Water Farms - which raises Kona Kampachi®, a yellowtail relative, in net pens a half mile off the coast of Hawaii's Big Island - on Wednesday refuted accusations that its fish-farming practices are environmentally unfriendly and detrimental to native Hawaii culture.

On Saturday in front of California's Monterey Bay Aquarium, Food & Water Watch (F&WW) attorney Zach Corrigan and Kale Gumapac, head of Hawaii's Kanaka Council, will hold a press conference to persuade the aquarium to remove Kona Kampachi from the "Good Alternative" list on its Seafood Watch seafood-buying guide.

They say open-ocean aquaculture is harmful to the marine ecosystem because the fish feed contains chicken protein and grains such as soy that are deposited into the ocean and consumed by wild fish. They even accused Kona Blue of killing a tiger shark, which is sacred to native Hawaiians, in November 2005.

Neil Sims, president of Kona Blue, called the accusations unwarranted.

"There are monumental ocean management issues, such as overfishing, that need to be urgently addressed," said Sims. "Yet these lobbyist groups want to subvert all evidence of sustainable solutions and try to manipulate Hawaiian sovereignty sentiments for their own political agenda. They are now trying to impugn the objectivity of the Monterey Bay Aquarium."

Sims said Kona Blue uses underwater cameras to closely monitor feeding to avoid waste, posts water-quality and benthic data on its Web site regularly, and implemented a state-endorsed shark management plan.

"The bigger picture here is that overfishing represents a global catastrophe, and we desperately need to find solutions to this crisis," said Sims. "Yet F&WW wants to just say ‘no.' They are not focused on solutions."

Kona Kampachi received a "Good Alternative" rating from the Monterey Bay Aquarium in May 2008, the first fish raised in an open-ocean net pen to earn the designation. At the time, Michael Wink, CEO of Kona Blue, said the company aspires to be the first such fish to be rated as a "Best Choice."

Since 2000, the aquarium has distributed more than 24 million pocket-sized Seafood Watch guides.

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