Pacific Aquaculture & Coastal Resources Center

E Komo Mai (Welcome!)

The Pacific Aquaculture & Coastal Resources Center's mission is to advance long-term sustainable use and conservation of coastal areas worldwide through aquaculture and resource management. The Center promotes excellence and innovation in interdisciplinary scientific research, public policy initiatives, outreach activities, and education. The PACRC is a project of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo in cooperation with the County of Hawaiʻi, the Keaukaha Community Association, and the UH Sea Grant College Program.

aerial view of PACRC facility at Keaukaha


After a gestation period lasting more than a decade, the Center is now in operation at two field sites on the Big Island—a coastal site (Keaukaha) adjacent to the Port of Hilo, and an inland site (Panaewa), six miles away. At Keaukaha, an old wastewater treatment plant was converted into the physical core of the Center. The initial focus at Keaukaha will be ornamental fish culture and the cultivation of pearl oysters. The primary purpose of the Panaewa site is quarantine, health management and integrated agriculture-aquaculture farming systems. The new PACRC facilities, in combination with the new UH-Hilo Marine Science Building, greatly enhances the international reputation as a premier location for education and research in marine sciences, aquaculture and coastal resources.

The Pacific Aquaculture & Coastal Resources Center operates aquaculture and coastal resource management projects worldwide, including Ecuador, Fiji, Honduras, Marshall Islands, México, Federated States of Micronesia, Nicaragua, Tanzania, Thailand, and the United States. In addition to aquaculture and coastal management, the center is rapidly expanding its work in the environmental sciences and coastal resources. The PACRC coordinates the Pacific Internship Programs for Exploring Science (PIPES) for under represented students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific region. Further, the Center houses the Hawaiʻi Cooperative Studies Unit (HCSU), a collaborative research program with the US Geological Survey, that is conducting over 25 projects on a wide array of resource management issues. Why Hilo? Hawaii is, without a doubt, a great place for aquaculture.

The Hawaiians themselves have an extensive system of pond culture dating back more than 700 years and finfish culture is considered an integral part of their island heritage. In 1979, Hawaii was the first U.S. state to implement an aquaculture development plan to provide research funding and critical support services to the industry. Since that time, commercial production has increased over 40 times to $28.1M dollars in 2004 (according to the latest annual report by the National Agricultural Statistics Service in Acrobat format), and values of Hawaii-grown aquaculture products are steadily increasing. Today Hawaii is overwhelmingly contributing to global aquaculture efforts by providing cutting-edge research, technical training, degree education, and consulting expertise for key species and production systems. Hilo is one of the few places on Earth where warm seawater, warm freshwater, and deep, cold seawater can be readily obtained. Thus, it is possible to grow most types of fish, shellfish and algae (tropical to cold-water) throughout the year. Additionally, a wide range of aquatic habitats ranging from tide pools, estuaries, coral reefs, rocky shorelines, and deep open ocean occur within only a mile or two of the Center, providing excellent resources for aquaculture and coastal system research.

Development Plan Approximately $3.7 million has already been obtained for the first phase of the Center from variety of sources including the County of Hawaii, State of Hawaii, the U.S. Economic Development Administration, and the University of Hawaii. Additionally, coastal land with a value in excess of $3 million was transferred to the University for this project. Basic cleanup of the old wastewater treatment plant and removal of rubbish from the adjacent parcel has been completed. Detailed designs for the site layout were completed in September 2005 by an architectural and engineering firm.

Major components of the Keaukaha facilty include internal roads, parking lots, a few offices, a water quality laboratory, brackish and saltwater wells, and large greenhouse-like structures which contain tanks. In Panaewa, a pathology labortory, quarantine facilities, a freshwater fish hatchery, and several ponds are currently being constructed. Our long-term goals are to provide an infrastructure needed for world-class aquaculture and marine science programs at UH Hilo, support commercial aquaculture, fisheries and eco-tourism in East Hawaii, and transfer technologies developed and tested at the Center to similar coastal areas throughout the world. Land, water, and other resources are being made be available for the development of small- scale research facilities by collaborating organizations, including the private sector.

Projects & Programs

The Pacific Aquaculture & Coastal Resources Center has an array of ongoing projects worldwide. The Center is currently involved with aquaculture and coastal resource management work in Ecuador, Fiji, Honduras, the Marshall Islands, México, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nicaragua, Samoa, Tanzania, Thailand, and the United States. Domestic projects are based both in Alaska and on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. Past international projects were completed in Honduras, Egypt, Thailand, and French Polynesia. More information on our ongoing, completed, and future projects can be found by selecting the menu options to the right. Projects have been grouped into three main categories: Research & Development, Education & Outreach, and Hawaii Cooperative Studies Unit (HCSU). Education & Outreach Hawaii Cooperative Studies Unit Research & Development

UH Hilo Courses

General Information The undergraduate aquaculture program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo (UH Hilo) was established in 1988 and is located within the College of Agriculture. Students completing this program recieve a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with a specialization in aquaculture. All UH Hilo College of Agriculture programs, including the aquaculture program, stress individualized attention through small class size, an emphasis on both basic and applied sciences, and experiential learning through laboratory and field work. The PACRC is proud to be an integral part of this degree program. The Hilo area has unique potential for aquaculture education. As expected in a semi-tropical island climate, warm seawater and freshwater are available. Additionally, cool fresh and salt waters (20°C) and cold (6°C) seawater can be obtained from wells. This diversity of water supplies allows the culture of almost all aquaculture species including tropical fish, trout, salmon, carp, shrimp, various seaweeds, and shellfish throughout the year. Aquaculture students currently have access to a freshwater aquaculture facility at the UH-Hilo agricultural farm, and a coastal research and teaching facility is being developed by the PACRC in Keaukaha, only four miles from campus. Why Study Aquaculture? Students graduating from the UH Hilo aquaculture program can obtain employment with private firms ad various government agencies as aquaculture biologists/technicians, start their own aquaculture enterprises, or proceed to graduate school for advanced degrees. More information on the undergraduate aquaculture degree program can be obtained at the UH College of Agriculture website.

Please contact PACRC for more information:

Contact PACRC:

Pacific Aquaculture & Coastal Resources Center

 (PACRC) University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo
1079 Kalanianaole Avenue,

Hilo, Hawaii 96720
Phone: (808) 933-3289, Fax: (808) 933-0499,