May 10 symposium will focus on tremendous growth of aquaponics

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Vanessa "Ness" Lum, (808) 223-7019
Aquaponics Instructor, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resource
Posted: May 5, 2014

Dr. Clyde Tamaru with an aquaponic growing system.
Dr. Clyde Tamaru with an aquaponic growing system.

UH Mānoa is hosting a one-day symposium, “Growth of Aquaponics: East Meets West,” on Saturday, May 10, 2014, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Art Building Auditorium at 2535 McCarthy Mall, Room 132. The College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) is partnering with local producers, along with Utah’s Weber State University (WSU) and Japanese company Horimasa International, to showcase current efforts in aquaponics research, technology and entrepreneurship.

Highlights will include WSU’s demonstration of a behind-the-scenes prototype of a working aquaponic system for indoor or office use, reports on the commercialization of aquaponics statewide, an overview of sustainable models and CTAHR research, and a discussion of Cooperative Extension support on O‘ahu for aquaponics Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

Tickets are $6 including fees and may be purchased at The symposium is organized by CTAHR’s Dr. Clyde Tamaru and coordinated by aquaponics instructor Mr. Vanessa “Ness” Lum.

The program begins with opening remarks by CTAHR’s Dean Maria Gallo, followed by a talk by Masaharu Hori and Mitsuo Hotta of Horimasa International. Then Dr. Megumi Leatherbury and her students at Weber State University will demonstrate their prototype design for a small commercial/indoor aquaponics unit.

During the lunch break that follows, the prototype unit will be available for examination. After lunch, Dr. Verlie Ann Malina Wright of the nonprofit organization ISIS Hawaiʻi will discuss “Aquaponics in Diverse Settings,” followed by Fred Lau of commercial farm Mari’s Garden, who will speak on “Advancing Commercial Aquaponics.”

Then CTAHR faculty and graduate students will discuss aquaponics nutrient profiles and IPM and hydroponics. The program will end with a talk by Tamaru.

The full program agenda may be viewed at

Tamaru earned his BS in Biology and MS in Zoology from UH Mānoa and his doctorate from the University of Tokyo. He is currently an aquaculture specialist in CTAHR’s Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering. He heads CTAHR’s aquaculture extension team, which provides technical assistance in aquaculture and aquaponics to private- and public-sector stakeholders within the state and abroad. His active research portfolio covers Hawaiian fishponds, biofuel byproduct remediation, aquaponics, and developing hatchery technologies for a variety of freshwater and marine species. Tamaru’s other interests include developing culture-based curriculum for use in Hawai‘i’s school systems.

The overall goal of CTAHR’s aquaponics research and extension efforts is to decrease Hawai‘i’s dependence on imports for both food and energy. Aquaponics, the integration of aquaculture systems of raising fish and hydroponic systems of raising vegetables, is extremely efficient in terms of water and land use. Fish are fed and release metabolites into the water, which are converted to nutrients by naturally occurring bacteria in the water, and the nutrient-rich water is then used as a medium for growing plants. Such a system is particularly appealing in the Pacific Islands, which afford limited land and fresh water, but will become increasingly necessary worldwide in the face of changing global climactic and other environmental conditions.

One of CTAHR’s international collaborators is Horimasa International, a Japanese company that created the Vegilab under the technical supervision of Tamaru. The Vegilab is a vertical indoor aquaponic growing system utilizing LED lights to stimulate photosynthesis and is combined with an aquaponic flood and drain system being used to do additional testing on maximizing productivity.  Horimasa also partnered with WSU to create another indoor aquaponics system, allowing students the opportunity to address challenges of food production in the 21st century.

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