The undergraduate Aquaculture specialization was established in 1988. The Hilo area has unique potential for aquaculture education. As expected in a semi-tropical climate, warm seawater and freshwater are available. Additionally, cool fresh and salt water (20 degrees celsius) and cold (6 degrees celsius) 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 Laboratory, as well as the 12-acre Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center (PACRC) at Keaukaha. Facilities include a water quality laboratory, a shellfish hatchery, a marine fish hatchery, demonstration fish culture units, and a marine mammal rehabilitation facility. Freshwater and marine aquaponics demonstration units are also present at each facility.
Graduates in Aquaculture can obtain employment immediately after graduation with private firms and various government agencies as aquaculture scientists/technicians. Because of the broad emphasis on both biology and agriculture technology, graduates have many of the skills required to start their own aquaculture enterprises. If students desire a career in research or teaching, this specialty is designed to enable students to be qualified for admittance to graduate programs in aquaculture and fisheries.
- Students will have a thorough understanding of and be able to describe the worldwide extent and importance of aquaculture in the production of food, chemicals, recreation and environmental mitigation.
- Students will become familiar with and be able to compare and contrast the major types and components of aquaculture systems, species and factors affecting system sustainability.
- Students will be able to identify global cultural, social, economic and historical factors that affect aquaculture development with an emphasis on the Hawaiʻi and Pan-Pacific region and be able to describe specifically how these factors affect aquaculture.
- Students will be able to explain the relationship between aquaculture, society and the natural environments for the major aquaculture areas around the world, including potential impacts (positive and negative), and how environmental and social challenges can be solved. Emphasis will be placed on Hawaiʻi and the Pan-Pacific region, although regions such as Latin America and SE Asia will also be covered.
- Students will have experiential learning opportunities (e.g., hands-on experiences at laboratories, farms, demonstration centers) to acquire skills and abilities including hatchery, growout, harvesting and marketing of aquaculture species to enhance their competitiveness in their future careers.