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EPA announces completion of Molokai fish pond project

Release Date: 6/22/2005
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, 808-541-2711

HONOLULU - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is announcing the successful completion of Project Loko I'a on Molokai, which focused on restoring traditional Hawaiian aquaculture fish ponds in Hawai'i.

"The project provides Hawai'i with useful tools to restore and enhance the state's fish ponds," said Alexis Strauss, director for the EPA's Water Division for the Pacific Southwest. "We're pleased to see the successful conclusion of Project Loko I'a integrating modern technology with traditional Hawai'ian aquaculture and cultural practices. The results of this project will assist others in Hawai'i who are taking the initiative to restore fish ponds."

Among other achievements, Project Loko I'a streamlined the permit process that owners and operators of traditional Hawai'ian fish ponds must complete when restoring their ponds.

The project's accomplishments are:

- Preparation of a permit application template that can help fishpond owner/operators meet state and federal requirements.

- A water quality monitoring study, conducted by the University of Hawai'i and three project staff, that analyzed active and inactive fishponds on Moloka'i. These results were then compared to Hawai'i's water quality standards.

- Co-sponsored the state-wide fishpond conference by and for fishpond operators at He'eia Fishpond, Oahu, September, 2004.

- Establishment of a learning center on Molokai which provides local and, state agencies, along with the aquaculture community the opportunity to view, discuss, and experience a working fish pond.

- Creation of a team of Fishpond experts available to provide advice on fishpond restoration to communities throughout the State. The project staff provided assistance to groups on Maui, Kauai, and Hawai'i.

- In conjunction with the Hawaii Department of Education, development of a school curriculum based on traditional Hawai'ian management of marine resources.

The effort began in 1999 when the EPA provided $1.4 to the Pacific American Foundation.

In ancient Hawai'i, fish ponds were an integral part of the agricultural system that stretched from the mountains to the sea. Ancient Hawai'ians constructed the rock-walled enclosures in shallow, nearshore waters, cultivating fish as major source of protein. The fish ponds fell into disuse when large scale agriculture developed in Hawai'i. In many cases, the fish ponds became significantly contaminated by runoff from urbanization, overgrazing, and agricultural production.

For more information on Project Loko I'a and the project's final report and data results visit: