As a sea-faring, ocean-dependent people, the marine environment and resources therein are pivotal to indigenous communities’ survival in the Pacific. In Hawai‘i, our loko i‘a practices have been passed down for numerous generations, and are highly sophisticated, ethical technologies that have the potential to feed our communities sustainably without causing damage to our surrounding natural environment.
A 1990 statewide survey identified 488 loko i‘a sites in Hawai‘i revealing the pervasiveness of these food systems in our communities. However, due to the ongoing effects of colonization and land degradation, many of these ponds are in poor condition, some being beyond repair or altogether unrecognizable as loko. In looking at contemporary social and environmental issues such as food security, climate change, land privatization, and overpopulation, the loss of these fishponds and their food-producing abilities is tragic and points to the need to restore the remaining ponds available to us today.
Over the past decade, a small but steady effort spawned traditional fishpond restoration and fishpond culture projects on Moloka‘i at Oneali‘i, ‘Ualapu‘e, Keawanui, Kahinapōhaku, and Honouliwai fishponds. Under the direction and guidance of Uncle Walter, our team is leading efforts at Keawanui and is proud to help revitalize these crucial food-producing spaces for our community.