Research Projects 2014-2016

Evaluation of the economic feasibility and marketing potential of the new Hawaiʻi oyster industry

Co-INVESTIGATORS: Maria Haws, Robert Howerton, Quentin Fong
Graduate Trainee: Jessie Qay Chen

Oysters displayed in a black wire cage

There is little information on the costs of designing and operating small-scale farms and associated industry activities (i.e. depuration) in Hawaii. Additionally, only very limited information on marketing exists since all bivalve shellfish have to date been imported from the continental U.S. or Asia. Given that Hawaii’s aquaculture context and conditions are unique due to its biophysical, economic and cultural characteristics, it is critical that at this point in industry development that a more rigorous effort be made to quantify costs and characterize market conditions, including prices and consumer preferences. This is particularly crucial as the small-scale operators move from production scenarios that have been heavily subsidized through participation in collaborative research to a free market, self-sustaining financing model. Issues such as positioning and branding of a Hawai`i shellfish product need to be considered. Results of this project fills these informational gaps by providing a detailed cost and return analysis of a model Hawaii-based oyster farm and the product attributes desired by local restaurateurs.