Date: Thursday, September 13, 2012, 1:29pm HST
Big Island Abalone Corp. is planning to double its size to nearly 20 acres at the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park, which is administered by the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island.
Seattle-based Trident Seafoods, which owns Big Island Abalone, is in negotiations with the state to make this a reality.
The expansion will allow the shellfish operation to grow both its algae and abalone production. The company wants to grow its algae production because that’s what the abalone eats. It currently supplies markets in Hawaii, the Mainland and Japan.
“We’re trying to get into new markets,” said Frank Olinares, office manager for Big Island Abalone. “We’re trying to see what’s going on around us.”
Its facilities include a hatchery, a nursery and abalone grow-out tanks. It maintains 2 million abalone in inventory on its 10-acre site, producing Kona Coast Abalone, which is served at many high-end establishments in Tokyo, Waikiki, Las Vegas and San Francisco.
Big Island Abalone currently has a little more than 30 employees, and it isn’t sure how many people it will add as a result of the expansion, said Olinares.
According to its website, its system uses a constant supply of pure, cold, nutrient-rich seawater, pumped from a depth of 3,000 feet, resulting in what it calls a near-perfect environment for growing its abalone.
Duane Shimogawa covers energy, real estate and economic development for Pacific Business News.