Aquaculture, Aquaponics and Tilapia Workshops Planned August 16-20

Media Release:

Hawaii’s growing aquaculture and aquaponics industry will be the subject of five days of meetings next week (August 16 to 20) in Hilo, sponsored by the University of Hawai’i Aquaculture Program in collaboration with UH Hilo and the UH Hilo Conference Center.

UH Hilo conference Center Director, Judith Fox-Goldstein said “These workshops bring together a unique mix of producers, researchers, legislators, and members of the business community to offer local and international perspectives on aquaculture, or fish farming, and aquaponics, which integrates fish and plant farming.  The series concludes with participants touring several Big Island backyard, commercial and innovative aquaculture and aquaponics farms.”

The Hawaii Aquaculture & Aquaponics Association (HAAA) meets Monday, August 16, 2010 at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel Moku’ola Ballroom, chaired by Dr. Kevin Hopkins, director of the Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center (PACRC), and features presentations on farming of freshwater and saltwater organisms, such as finfish, mollusks, crustaceans and aquatic plants.

The International Workshop on Aquaponics and Tilapia (IWAT) follows Tuesday through Thursday (August 17 to 19, 2010) with morning sessions at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, and afternoon ‘how to’ sessions at the PACRC in Keaukaha.  IWAT is chaired by the University of Hawaiʻi Aquaculture Program coordinator, Dr. Benny Ron.

“The U.S. imports 80 percent of its seafood (10.7 billion pounds) from overseas and professional development is an ongoing need for the aquaponics industry to provide up-to-date information and resources.   Aquaponics is an approved USDA-certified organic method of farming, whereas the process uses a minute 2% of the water needed to grow a conventional farm, and with a fraction of the land,” Dr. Ron points out, adding that the process will produce ten times the amount of produce of conventional farming on the same amount of land, and uses 70% less energy than conventional farming.

The main instructor in this workshop is James Rakocy, the Director of the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) Agricultural Experiment Station and a Research Professor of Aquaculture, whose research has concentrated on the development of production systems for tilapia that conserve and reuse water and recycle nutrients.

In addition to Rakocy, keynote speakers include experts from Australia and Israel.  Wilson Lennard recognized as Australia’s leading expert in aquaponics has been studying aquaponics for the past eight years; his research proved that an optimal balance of fish to plants can be achieved, so that the same water may be used perpetually within the system, meaning that water is never removed from the system, thereby making aquaponics the most water efficient food growing technology in the world today.

Gideon Hulata is a senior research scientist at the Department of Poultry and Aquaculture Sciences, Agricultural Research Organization (ARO), Israel, and an adjunct professor at the Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His recent research focuses on genetic improvement of tilapias, control of sex ratios in these fishes, as well as evaluation of new species for aquaculture in Israel. Through collaboration with U.S. scientists he is also involved in the mapping of the tilapia genome and in genomic studies of the sex determination pathway in tilapias. He is a member of various scientific societies, and has published more than 130 articles in reviewed scientific literature.

For more information on the workshop series, and the complete program visit or call the UH Hilo Conference Center at (808) 974-7555.  Learn more about aquaculture in Hawaiʻi at Dr. Ron’s website,, or the Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resource Center at