Kualoa Ranch Cultivating New Kind Of Herd, No Cowboys Needed
By PAIGE TAKEYA
Hawaii imports 400,000 oysters annually to feed its seafood connoisseurs. In fact, there were no locally grown oysters sold in the state before Kualoa Ranch’s budding oyster farm – the first to be state-certified in decades – opened its gates in late February.
“This is an adaptive reuse of a Hawaiian fishpond that adds to Hawaii’s food security,” stated ranch president John Morgan. “It is our belief that the land should be productive and sustainable.”
Right now, Kualoa is growing and harvesting some 30,000 oysters in its ancient Molii Fishpond. Its Pacific oysters are available to purchase at Kualoa Visitor Center and Windward Farmers Market for an introductory rate of $1 per oyster.
Shellfish lovers are advised to plan ahead and reserve their oysters before heading down to the ranch, as Kualoa has been consistently selling out of its daily harvest. (The ranch also sold its new product March 15 to the crowds at a Discover Kualoa event.)
Hawaii is a prime location to grow seed oysters because of its tropical climate and warmer water temperatures, and the state has long been exporting these larvae to Mainland oyster farms.
Interest from commercial growers to keep the process entirely at home encouraged the state Department of Health to recertify its regulatory lab that ensures Hawaii-produced oysters are compliant with Food and Drug Administration standards.
Experts at the University of Hawaii-Hilo have speculated that Hawaii oysters and shellfish could become a $20 million-a-year industry within the next five years.
For more information or to reserve a few oysters, call 237-7321 or visit kualoa.com.