Oceanic Institute celebrates 50th anniversary - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Oceanic Institute celebrates 50th anniversary

By Grace Lee - bio | email 

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Oceanic Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to aquatic sustainability. This year marks its 50th anniversary. The institute invited us on a behind-the-scenes tour, right next to Sea Life Park.

Tucked away on the edge of Waimanalo, the Oceanic Institute is making waves in the aquaculture industry. For the past 50 years, scientists have been working to increase food production and promote the sustainable use of ocean resources.

"Worldwide, seafood is a major protein source," said Tony Ostrowski, Oceanic Institute president. "All of our fisheries have been fished at maximum yield. So the only increase we're going to get in our global supply of seafood is through aquaculture."

Ostrowski took us inside the shrimp nucleus breeding center, where shrimp are raised domestically then distributed across the globe.

"Almost three million metric tons of shrimp that are being farmed worldwide today, most of them can trace their genetic origins to the Oceanic Institute and back to Hawaii," he said. 

The shrimp are bred for specific characteristics, like growth, survival, disease resistance and adaptability. Scientists use what's called a "visible implant elastomer" to keep track of them all.

"Generally we use a combination of colors and tag locations to determine different families," explained Bob Cantrell, research associate for the OI shrimp program. "We can differentiate and follow growth rates, survival rates and so forth for specific families. The families that do the best in those certain set of circumstances can be used to breed the next generation."

The institute also started a hatchery to produce moi. The program helps feed a high demand for fresh seafood. 

"Moi was fished out. It was the fish of the alii in the ancient fishponds and it was fished out here since the 1980's," Ostrowski said. "All of the moi you see in the marketplace today actually start their lives out at this particular facility. Then these animals are placed in offshore cages, raised up and sold to the general public."

Also in the works, techniques to produce sustainable feed and bio-fuel. That's just a taste of what's to come in the next 50 years.


The institute is throwing an anniversary gala called "Seafood Sensation" tomorrow night at Sea Life Park, from 6 to 9 p.m. Sen. Daniel Inouye is the honorary chair. The event will boast exotic dishes prepared on-site by some of Hawai'i's top chefs, including D.K. Kodama, Eric Leterc, Philippe Padovani, and Russell Siu. There will be live entertainment and a short program that will highlight OI's accomplishments and future goals. Tickets are available for purchase directly from the Oceanic Institute. Call 259-3180 for more information.

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