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Sea Food is Sparse in Island Waters


Honolulu. Sept. 6, 1970

Oceanographer Dr. Gunter Dietrich, asked about food from the sea, especially the seas around Hawaii, said: "Here in Hawaii you have a great need for fish but you would have to fertilize your seas to make them produce the fish needed by a growing population."


He said fish production is poor because Hawaii's seawater is poor in nutrients. "You have a wonderful sea-azure blue, but this means that it is empty of plankton- the first step in the food chain," he said. "Because there is no plankton the fish population is extremely small.


"YOU WOULD have to fertilize by using phosphates and nitrates, but this would be too expensive as they are too easily diffused.” The best way would be the natural way -upwelling, he said, adding: "Upwelling is the process that brings nutrients into the photic zone -the zone where light is available. Light is the basis of life so in the deep sea there are no plants because there is no light. The deep-sea animals live on dead material, which drifts down like snow from the surface.  "If we could warm up the deep sea water in regions where there is no light we could produce natural upwelling, but we'd need a big machine which makes heat.


THE EASIEST way would be to use an atomic reactor, but it would be too small for open ocean areas. If this could be done, it should be done in smaller waters, such as the bays on Oahu-Pearl Harbor, Hanauma, Kaneohe-where waters can be controlled.

"The old Hawaiians solved the problem by making artificial seas -fishponds, and raised the kind of fish they wanted. This is the best way because they can be fertilized and you can choose the most valuable fish." He said if we knew how to fertilize the seas economically and how to harvest plankton on a large scale "we could catch 100 times the amount of food from the sea we are now getting, which is about 70 million tons."


THE RUSSIANS have learned how to harvest plankton and make a "tasteless" protein food out of it, he said. He said that in Africa, South America and India, where the seas are rich in nutrients, there are "abundant fish populations, but they don't know how to fish. "In one area of India, for example, they catch fish by using a bow and arrow." He suggested that Hawaii could help countries where people are starving because of a lack of knowledge.


"If you would like to help these countries you would have to teach them how to use the resources of the sea, and this you can do by teaching them fishery technology-where to find the best fishing grounds, how to use instruments to catch fish, and ways of preserving, marketing, and cooking fish and other sea foods," he said.