An Atlantic halibut swam in an Unlimited Aquaculture tank at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii. Unlimited has been unable to expand since its 2003 founding for lack of capital, which new owner Troutlodge Inc. of Washington plans to provide.
Isle aquaculture farm sold
A Big Island aquaculture farm that failed to get off the ground has been purchased by a large worldwide fish egg distributor.
Washington-based Troutlodge Inc., which produces and distributes trout and salmon eggs worldwide, bought Unlimited Aquaculture LLC at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority, on June 29 for an undisclosed price.
Canadian businessmen Don MacQuarrie and Ian Shand started Unlimited Aquaculture in 2003, but after four years couldn't raise enough fish to be commercially viable, said Andrew Barfoot, director of sales and marketing for Troutlodge.
"The biggest thing is they were undercapitalized," he said. "They didn't quite have the money to invest in the areas they needed to make it work on a commercial scale."
The company, which had hoped to sell 300 tons of black cod a year, has for the last few months sold just a handful of fish each day to several local restaurants, Barfoot added.
The farm currently has about 3,500 fish, which include four to five tons of halibut and one to two tons of black cod, also known as sablefish or butterfish.
"This situation is kind of typical with entrepreneurs in this state. You can't get that first financing to advance to that next round that you need to get to, to make something happen," said Ron Baird, chief executive officer of NELHA.
MacQuarrie and Shand couldn't be reached for comment.
The purchase allows Troutlodge -- which created Marine Aqua LLC -- to expand into the commercial marine aquaculture business, a relatively new field.
The company expects to invest between $2 million and $3 million in operations, in addition to the purchase price, Barfoot said.
The company is currently staffing the operation on a rotational basis with employees from Troutlodge and plans to hire a full-time manager within the next two months and three to four people by the end of its first year of production.