Aquatic farmers can access new online resource

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Barbara Payne McLain, (808) 381-5154
Project Director, Aquaculture Program
Tetsuzan Benny Ron, (808) 956-2196
Program Coordinator, Aquaculture Program
Posted: Jun 8, 2012

Dr. Tetsuzan Benny Ron
Dr. Tetsuzan Benny Ron
As more countries search for a sustainable and reliable source of affordable organic protein or vegetables, they are increasingly turning to aquaculture or aquaponics, a sustainable food production system that combines raising fish in tanks with hydroponic gardening.  In response to this growing need, the University of Hawai‘i Aquaculture Program has launched a new online community outreach program called ATOLL: Aquaculture Training and Online Learning.

ATOLL will encourage more community members throughout the Pacific region to become aquatic farmers and knowledgeable about aquaponics.  The program was created and is under the continuing jurisdiction of UH Mānoa Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education Gary Ostrander.

Supported by generous grants from NOAA, the ATOLL program consists of a unique web platform for the delivery of high-quality video training.  This unique, non-credit course intends to improve food security in the region and is being offered via Outreach College.

The program, which launched in January, has thus far attracted over 160 students from 20 countries around the globe.

The program is the brainchild of Tetsuzan Benny Ron, PhD, Aquaculture Program coordinator at UH Mānoa.  He is assisted by Barbara Payne McLain, PhD, a pioneer in distance education at the Mānoa campus, who serves as project director. 

They work with a team of dedicated expert faculty from the Mānoa campus, including UH Sea Grant, as well as local farmers and representatives from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture and University of Oregon Sea Grant.

Said McLain, “We are the first university attempting to teach aquaponics in an online setting at a reasonable cost.  A few other online programs exist in the world, but they are very expensive. Our program is designed to be an affordable introduction to fish farming and aquaponics for everyone in island communities around the Pacific.”

While broadly trying to improve food security in the region, the program hopes to attract students looking at careers in aquaculture, new workers on commercial fish farms, or community members who wish to start aquaponic gardens for quality home food production. 

For more information or to register, send an email to or see the websites at and

(Caption) Dr. Tetsuzan Benny Ron from UH Mānoa captures data from a backyard aquaponics system to be integrated into a special iPhone app and network developed by his team.  Photo courtesy of Natalie Cash, Farm Manager, Olomana Gardens.