A fish farm located on the Big Island of Hawaii wants to release captive bred giant grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus), once abundant to the islands (known in Hawaii as hapuupuu) onto the reefs off Kona, Hawaii, and is asking the state Department of Agriculture to change the rules that prohibit the release of imported fish, according to a West Hawaii Today news report.
Kampachi Farms, which has been farming Hawaiian yellowtail for the last 10 years initially wanted to breed the fish, but couldn’t find any specimens, so they purchased broodstock from Taiwan and brought them into the state, with the intention of raising fry and releasing them onto the reefs of Hawaii. According to the report, the farm now has 50 offspring that were born in 2008 and are now about 2 feet in length.
Hawaiian grouper. Photo courtesy Kampachi Farms
In releasing the fish, the company claims that the state would directly benefit from tourism as well as conservation of a reef species that was once abundant in Hawaiian waters.
“Think of the potential tourist draw,” Neil Sims, CEO of Kampachi Farms told West Hawaii Today. “To be able to dive on these guys would just be terrific.”
William Aila, chairman of Hawaii’s Board of Land and Natural Resources urged the state Department of Agriculture not to allow the farm to release the fish. “If there were found to be negative impacts, we would certainly hold (Kampachi Farms) responsible for damages,” Aila said. “I strongly urge them not to release the fish.”
The giant grouper can grow to more than 250 pounds and more and are strictly carnivores. The state record is 563 pounds. The fish was once abundant in Hawaiian waters but is now rare. Should Kampachi Farms be permitted to release captive bred grouper from broodstock that came from Taiwan?