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Science Needs Assessment to Support Management of Loko Iʻa (Hawaiian Fishpond) Resources and Practices Critical to the Native Hawaiian Community

A Pacific Islands CASC Directed Funding FY 2018 Project

Dates

Start Date
2019-03-01
End Date
2021-07-31
Release Date
2018

Summary

Loko iʻa (Hawaiian fishponds) are an advanced, extensive form of aquaculture found nowhere else in the world. Loko iʻa practices are the result of over a thousand years of intergenerational knowledge, experimentation, and adaptation, and once produced over 2 million pounds of fish per year throughout the Hawaiian Islands. These fishponds provided a consistent and diverse supply of fish when ocean fishing was not possible or did not yield enough supply. In many ways, loko iʻa are foundational to traditional aquaculture in Hawai‘i and have the potential to provide food security that contributes to greater coastal community resilience and economic autonomy. Today, changes in coastal and hydrological processes, including rainfall, wind, [...]

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Aimakapa-Fishpond.jpg
“Aimakapa Fishpond - Credit: NPS”
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Purpose

Loko iʻa (Hawaiian fishponds) are an advanced, extensive form of aquaculture found nowhere else in the world (Kirch, 1985). The six styles of Hawaiian fishpond are unique and efficient technology — and represent Hawaiian innovation in engineering, hydrology, and biology (Kikuchi 1976; Costa-Pierce 1987). Loko iʻa built along the shore take advantage of the natural ecology and tidal flows of coastal areas by enclosing and enhancing brackish environments favorable for marine algae that are attractive to a wide variety of juvenile herbivorous fish. Loko i‘a once produced an average of 400–600 pounds of fish per acre per year, over 2 million pounds of fish annually throughout the Hawaiian Islands (Cobb 1905 ). Loko iʻa practice is the result of over a thousand years of generational knowledge, experimentation, and adaptation (Paepae o Heʻeia, n.d.). Fishponds provided a regular and diverse supply of fish when ocean fishing was not possible or did not yield sufficient supply (Kirch, 1985). In many ways, loko iʻa were foundational to traditional aquaculture in Hawai‘i and provided food security that contributed to greater coastal community adaptation and resilience. Observation and adaptation are foundations of loko iʻa management, applying decisions made by kia‘i loko (fishpond caretakers, practitioners, or resource managers) to optimize changes in tides, weather, and environmental conditions. Kiaʻi loko have adapted to climate shifts over many centuries. However, contemporary human-induced climate shifts are unprecedented in their scope and rate of change, signaling even greater need to support, learn from, and build upon the long-standing capacities of kiaʻi loko to adapt to change (Vitousek et al. 2010, Marrack and O’Grady 2014). Kiaʻi loko are already adapting to the impacts of a changing climate including structural damage caused by increased storm events and record breaking high tides (Figure 1). These environmental changes force kiaʻi loko to innovate and test solutions. This project will support the ongoing work of the kiaʻ i loko through partnerships to develop meaningful inquiry, test hypotheses, adjust management techniques, and co-develop solutions to continuously adapt to changes impacting these indigenous aquaculture systems over time.

Project Extension

parts
typeTechnical Summary
valueLoko iʻa (Hawaiian fishponds) are an advanced, extensive form of aquaculture found nowhere else in the world (Kirch, 1985). The six styles of Hawaiian fishpond are unique and efficient technology — and represent Hawaiian innovation in engineering, hydrology, and biology ( Kikuchi 1976; Costa-Pierce 1987 ). Loko iʻa built along the shore take advantage of the natural ecology and tidal flows of coastal areas by enclosing and enhancing brackish environments favorable for marine algae that are attractive to a wide variety of juvenile herbivorous fish. Loko i‘a once produced an average of 400–600 pounds of fish per acre per year, over 2 million pounds of fish annually throughout the Hawaiian Islands (Cobb 1905 ). Loko iʻa practice is the result of over a thousand years of generational knowledge, experimentation, and adaptation (Paepae o Heʻeia, n.d.). Fishponds provided a regular and diverse supply of fish when ocean fishing was not possible or did not yield sufficient supply (Kirch, 1985). In many ways, loko iʻa were foundational to traditional aquaculture in Hawai‘i and provided food security that contributed to greater coastal community adaptation and resilience. Observation and adaptation are foundations of loko iʻa management, applying decisions made by kia‘i loko (fishpond caretakers, practitioners, or resource managers) to optimize changes in tides, weather, and environmental conditions. Kiaʻi loko have adapted to climate shifts over many centuries. However, contemporary human-induced climate shifts are unprecedented in their scope and rate of change, signaling even greater need to support, learn from, and build upon the long-standing capacities of kiaʻi loko to adapt to change (Vitousek et al. 2010, Marrack and O’Grady 2014). Kiaʻi loko are already adapting to the impacts of a changing climate including structural damage caused by increased storm events and record breaking high tides (Figure 1). These environmental changes force kiaʻi loko to innovate and test solutions. This project will support the ongoing work of the kiaʻ i loko through partnerships to develop meaningful inquiry, test hypotheses, adjust management techniques, and co-develop solutions to continuously adapt to changes impacting these indigenous aquaculture systems over time.
projectStatusCompleted

Aimakapa Fishpond - Credit: NPS
Aimakapa Fishpond - Credit: NPS

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Communities

  • National and Regional Climate Adaptation Science Centers
  • Pacific Islands CASC

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Identifiers

Type Scheme Key
RegistrationUUID NCCWSC cd7308e9-c513-4b53-ae4a-ca0ddb81da67
StampID NCCWSC PI18-MK1559

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