Founded in 1974, the Hawaii Ocean and Technology Park in Kailua Kona serves as a hub for some of the most exciting projects in green aquaculture and the use of seawater to generate electricity. Tucked away in one corner of the facility and marked by several large tanks pumped full of ocean water sits the Kanaloa Octopus Farm. The farm is the country’s first and only for-profit initiative working on a way to breed octopus in captivity.
“The visit was awesome,” says travel blogger Patrick Catterson, who traveled to the Kanaloa Octopus Farm during a tour in March 2019. According to Catterson, the farm offers daily tours for around $30 per person, where you can learn all about octopus as well as the company’s mission to find a sustainable way to rear them for the seafood market. At the end of the tour, he says, visitors are offered a chance to interact with the octopus under supervision.
Jake Conroy, founder of the research program, has a bachelor’s degree in marine biology from Hawaii Pacific University. He founded the Kanaloa Octopus Farm in 2015, after quitting his previous job at the Anuenue Fisheries Research Center in Honolulu. “Octopus are fascinating animals, and almost all aquariums have them — and that’s just the ornamentals,” Conroy said in an interview with the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. “I would love to be able to supply the markets with sustainable sources and hopefully move up to a scale to provide octopus for eating.”
Conroy claims they’ve had some success: The initiative crossed its first hurdle in 2016, when they managed to mate a male and female octopus in captivity, outside of their natural habitat, according to the Tribune-Herald article. For now, Conroy says that his team will be breeding these creatures for aquariums only. The plan, however, is to eventually scale up production and become an exclusive supplier of farmed octopus for gourmet restaurants across the region. Conroy did not respond to requests for comment.
“My concerns are for the individual octopus, that they are viewed as commodities, when they are, in fact…