Hawai: Widespread power outage leaves thousands of trout dead in aquaponic farm

Farming is a tough business, and Dobovan knew that it wouldn’t be easy when he set out in 2016 to start Hawaii’s first rainbow trout and watercress aquaponic farm. He had spent years experimenting and found they paired well. At the same time, he knew there wasn’t any trout and not close to enough watercress being grown in Hawaii.

Another part of his vision: He wanted to create an aquaponic training ground where he could coach up-and-coming farmers and guide them as they launched their own operations. He started with an “experiment” of 30 fish, and after six years and more than $1 million in investment, Kulahaven Farms was producing 1,000 pounds of trout and 2,000 pounds of watercress during good months — until last week’s disaster.

Dobovan was among 65,000 Hawaiian Electric customers on Maui who lost power that day during the island’s most widespread electrical outage in five years. The outage struck 94% of the company’s customers on Maui, leaving thousands of families and businesses without electricity for most of the morning.

On the morning of Aug. 23, that meant the farmer had to turn once again to his small gas-powered generator. Except it wouldn’t turn on. “This was my worst nightmare that this would happen,” Dobovan said. “And now it has come true.” The clock was ticking. But by the time he got the generator running an hour and a half later, it was too late for at least 4,000 trout. Those fish were supposed to supply roughly half of the farm’s income over the next year.

Read the complete article at www.civilbeat.org.

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