State briefs for June 18

Firm aims to mass produce edible seaweed off coast

KAILUA-KONA — A company hopes to build an underwater farm that can produce large quantities of edible seaweed, officials said.

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Kampachi Farms LLC is working to establish a farm to grow limu more than a mile off Kaiwi Point.

Kampachi Farms is seeking state and federal permits to test growth of four native limu species on submerged lines by supplying the plants with nutrient rich water from depths between 600 and 2,000 feet.

The size of the planned array is about 4,300 square feet.

“This is an innovative and disruptive approach that, to our knowledge, has never before been tested for macroalgae cultivation,” the company said in a draft environmental assessment published by the state June 8.

Kampachi Farms conducted a yearlong test of seven limu species in tanks on land supplied with deep seawater through pipes at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority, said research manager Lisa Vollbrecht.

A $500,000 research grant was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

To fund the offshore operation 33 feet below the surface, Kampachi Farms has sought a $1 million grant from the Energy Department because the ultimate goal is to use limu for biofuel to produce electricity.

Limu grown offshore also could fill its traditional role as human food, as well as feed for pigs, chickens, farmed fish and other animals, officials said.

Rescue crew airlifts dog and owner from tide pools

HONOLULU — A hiker and his injured dog were airlifted to safety by a Honolulu Fire Department helicopter, officials said.

The man and a woman were hiking Saturday with his labrador/golden retriever mix at the Makapuu tide pools on Oahu.

The dog’s feet were cut while hiking down a cliff to the tide pools and the animal could not return to the top.

The man and woman were uninjured.

“The dog stopped moving, and they had no way to get the dog out of there,” said fire department Capt. Scot Seguirant said.

The fire department was alerted at 10:40 a.m., and by 11:30 a.m. the owner and dog, a service animal, were in the helicopter, Seguirant said.

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The woman climbed back to the top as the man waited with his pet for help at the tide pools 17 miles east of Honolulu.

“Just like with children, we need to be thoughtful of our pets’ welfare when we’re out and about,” Seguirant said.

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