Kauai Chapter

Time to Learn What’s Going On At The Shrimp Farm

Sunrise Shrimp Farm in Kekaha has applied to the Hawaii Department of Health for a renewal of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. A NPDES permit allows for the controlled release of known pollutants. In this case the Surfrider Foundation feels that the requested permit allows too much pollution to enter the ocean and that these concerns should be addressed by the community at a public hearing.

Water from the shrimp farm carrying pollutants and even dead fish flows through canals to the ocean, impacting swimmers, surfers, and sea life. The canals often smell terrible with rotting dead fish. There are concerns that the dead fish bring sharks in close to the ocean recreational area; a shark attacked there during one such fish kill. While there are permit notification and cleanup requirements for fish kills, there are inadequate preventative measures.

The community of Kauai cares greatly about the health of our streams and near shore waters. By in large, people are unaware of the current level of pollution the shrimp farm currently causes, much less the risk for increased impact.

The shrimp farm proposes to discharge up to 20 million gallons a day of wastes into the ditch system of the Mana plain. The apparent target canal is an estuary requiring extra, not less, protection. The Department of Health could make effective use of community knowledge to improve the permit and best management practices. This permit needs an open public hearing like we had at the Waimea theater years ago.

Prior to 2017 the shrimp farm was locally owned by people who promised good environmental stewardship. Ownership quietly transferred to Hendrix Genetics in The Netherlands, who promote that the pristine, “biosecure” and remote nature of Kauai’s waters are key to their shrimp farming success. We would like to learn how they plan to keep those waters pristine while at same time continue to operate the popular shrimp farm.

Please contact Department of Health at cleanwaterbranch@doh.hawaii.gov by this Friday November 18 to ask for an open public hearing on this issue.

Gordon LaBedz
Chair, Surfrider Foundation Kauai

Full information about the proposed changes is on the Department of Health website.