Blessing held for Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center

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Date: Wednesday, December 8, 2004
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 974-7642

For Immediate Release

A traditional Hawaiian blessing ceremony was held today for the University of Hawaii at Hilo Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center’s Keaukaha site. Part of the site was the former Hilo wastewater treatment facility on Kalanianaole Avenue in Hilo.

The PACRC is scheduled to be operational in September 2005. It will support the University's aquaculture and marine science programs, including extension services to commercial aquaculture, fisheries and eco-tourism industries.

Technologies developed and tested at the PACRC will be disseminated to similar coastal areas throughout the Pacific. Facilities will also be available for collaborative research with the private sector and other universities.

“We are extremely proud to break ground for the PACRC,” said UH Hilo Chancellor Rose Tseng. “The Center has the potential to become one of the finest aquaculture facilities of its kind in the world, and will enhance UH Hilo’s international reputation as a research and education leader in the fields of marine science, aquaculture and coastal resources.”

The PACRC is under construction at two Big Island sites, a 12-acre coastal site at Keaukaha and an eight-acre inland site at Panaewa.

The Keaukaha site will initially focus on research and demonstration of ornamental fish, pearl oysters, and marine fish such as moi and kahala. In addition to the aquaculture facilities, the PACRC also provides public access to the shoreline for a variety of recreational activities.

The primary purpose of the Panaewa site will be quarantine, health management and integrated farming systems (i.e.: systems which use nutrient-rich water from the aquaculture tanks and ponds for irrigation). Panaewa is ideal for quarantine because there are no natural surface water sources within the area, ensuring that any escape of fishes or contamination of natural water bodies extremely remote. While the Keaukaha facility will welcome visitors, access to the Panaewa facility will be restricted.

“I’m delighted that construction is underway for PACRC,” said PACRC Interim Director Dr. Kevin Hopkins. “There are so many people who have helped us on this project—from the community to our legislators, different agencies—it’s a very, very long list of people who have supported us on this project.”

The PACRC is part of the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Management, although it works closely with other units throughout the University, particularly the Department of Marine Science. Financial support for the construction of the PACRC has come from a number of sources. The primary sources are U.S. Economic Development Administration (almost $2 million), the State of Hawai‘i (about $3 million), the County of Hawai‘i ($750,000 for clean-up of the old wastewater plant) and the University (about $500,000).

“PACRC will be a great resource for the community,” Tseng said. “This project will result in job creation through the development of new industries, become an ecotourism destination, and provide a focus for sustainable development of the Keaukaha Coastline."


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