Hawaii island firm aims to mass produce edible seaweed off coast
KAILUA-KONA (AP) — A Big Island company hopes to build an underwater farm that can produce large quantities of edible seaweed, officials said.
Kampachi Farms LLC is working to establish a farm to grow limu more than a mile off Kaiwi Point near Kailua on Hawaii island, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Sunday.
Limu is an ingredient in poke, a traditional Hawaiian dish of diced raw fish.
Kampachi Farms is seeking state and federal permits to test growth of four native limu species on submerged lines by supplying the plants with nutrientrich water from depths between 600 and 2,000 feet.
The size of the planned array is about 4,300 square feet.
“This is an innovative and disruptive approach that, to our knowledge, has never before been tested for macroalgae cultivation,” the company said in a draft environmental assessment published by the state June 8.
Kampachi Farms conducted a yearlong test of seven limu species in tanks on land supplied with deep seawater through pipes at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority, research manager Lisa Vollbrecht said.
A $500,000 research grant was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.
To fund the offshore operation 33 feet below the surface, Kampachi Farms has sought a $1 million grant from the energy department because the ultimate goal is to use limu for biofuel to produce electricity.
Limu grown offshore could also fill its traditional role as human food, as well as feed for pigs, chickens, farmed fish and other animals, officials said.