Spike in seafood processing facilities in Kailua-Kona to add 150 jobs over the next several years

Two of NELHA’s Hawaiʻi Ocean Science and Technology (HOST) Park success stories, Blue Ocean Mariculture and Kowa Premium Foods Hawaiʻi, also known as Big Island Abalone, are poised for additional growth and expansion with the creation of over 150 jobs over the next several years.

“The timing for this expansion could not be better. The creation of over 150 short- and long-term jobs in diversified industry sectors is key to reviving our economy in a post-COVID19 world,” said Gov. David Y. Ige.

“Hawaiʻi has long been home to both pioneering industry research efforts and commercial activities in aquaculture. The significant expansion plans announced by these two companies will only enhance our brand as a leader in the global aquaculture industry,” said Ige.

Kowa Premium Foods Hawaii Corporation (KPF Hawaii) is in the process of expanding its current 10-acre abalone facility by an additional 15 acres. "After extensive examination, KPF Hawaii is now committed to move forward with our research and development-based aquaculture expansion plans that are in keeping with NELHA’s core mission of supporting sustainable industries using sunshine, seawater, and ingenuity,” said Satoshi Yoshida, COO of KPF Hawaii. “Construction of new facilities will be completed in three phases over the next several years,” Yoshida said.

Initial expansion plans include additional aquaculture facilities to improve production and operational efficiencies and increase product offerings. In addition, KPF Hawaii will build a visitor center, administrative offices, and sales facility along with a full-service research & development restaurant to promote and enhance KPF’s world-renowned brand, grow direct sales and improve the visitor tour experience. An experimental canning and warehousing facility will also be built in the initial phase. Additional phases will include a new research and development laboratory and expansion of canning operations, if warranted.

Blue Ocean Mariculture (BOM) has developed the Hawaiian Kanpachi brand over the years and is now recognized worldwide. BOM’s facilities in West Hawaiʻi include a hatchery that produces fingerlings onshore at HOST Park and offshore operations that are used for grow-out production.

BOM is in the process of establishing a finfish processing center inside HOST Park to primarily process kanpachi from BOM’s offshore cages as well as perform custom finfish processing. The processing facility will be built to handle over 2,000 tons of fish annually. The facility will allow BOM to broaden its target markets which until now had been primarily supplying high-end chefs and restaurants with fresh whole fish, according to said Dick Jones, CEO of BOM.

“We are setting the foundation for the future of domestically produced aquaculture as we significantly expand our production of the only commercially available open ocean grown fish in the USA. The opportunities are unparalleled and with the strong support of the State of Hawaiʻi we are poised for a sustained period of growth in production as well as finfish processing in Hawaiʻi,” Jones said.

NELHA executive director Gregory Barbour added, “These are great assets for HOST Park and will add a new dimension to the growing aquaculture industry in Hawaiʻi while elevating our brand as a leader.

Many people have come together to make these initiatives a reality and we are thrilled by the positive feedback from these companies to create much needed jobs.”