Hawaii’s only rainbow trout aquaponics farm is closing due to financial woes

The owner says the pandemic, inflation and a massive power outage earlier this year has made it too difficult for them to stay afloat.
Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 7:15 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 30, 2022 at 7:40 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

KULA (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state’s only rainbow trout aquaponics farm is shutting down at the end of the year.

The owner said the pandemic and a massive power outage earlier this year has made it too difficult for them to stay afloat.

“We actually got hit with a double whammy,” said John Dobovan, Kulahaven Farms Founder and CEO. “We were way behind on electricity and rent because of the pandemic. We got almost no support at all.”

Dobovan said they lost all their fish following an island-wide power outage last August.

“We had no income for a couple of months,” Dobovan recalled. “And at that point, the landlord terminated our lease.”

Dobovan’s farm is the first and only one of its kind in the state.

“We have a special permit from the state of Hawaii to import rainbow trout eggs, and we bring in about 2,000 eggs a month, hatch them in our hatchery and grow them out over the course of about 11 months to one-pound rainbow trout,” Dobovan said.

Every Wednesday, they get their orders from the restaurants and retail outlets and get the trout ready to be sent out.

His fresh fish is found at Maui Food Hub, Upcountry Farmers Market, Pukalani Superette, Tamura’s in Wailuku and at fine restaurants like world-renown Mamas Fish House and Merriman’s in Kapalua.

“We got lots of restaurants that want our trout, we’re just were too small of an operation right now to meet the market,” Dobovan said.

He also harvests about 2,000 pounds of organic watercress a month.

But it will all come to a halt at the end of the year with a final harvest on Dec. 23 and the last delivery on Christmas Eve.

On another note, Dobovan is optimistic he will find farmland to expand his business.

“It’s only been in the last year or so that we’ve really started getting our feet underneath us, and actually right now we’re having our most profitable quarter ever.”

Dobovan said he just needs a like-minded business partner and the capital.

“I’m really deeply concerned about growing enough food for Hawaii’s people, and this is one of the ways we can do it,” Dobovan added.

“We can’t do it all, but we can be a big part of the solution.”

To help Kulahaven Farms, click here.

Copyright 2022 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.