Science needs assessment to support management of loko i‘a (Hawaiian fishpond) resources and practices critical to the Native Hawaiian community
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, and coastal and ocean temperatures, all threaten the physical, biochemical, and environmental integrity of the fishponds and impact associated species. These contemporary shifts in climate necessitate an even greater need to support, learn from, and build upon the capacities of fishpond caretakers, practitioners, and resource managers—known collectively as kiaʻi loko—to adapt to change. These environmental changes are forcing kiaʻi loko to innovate and test new solutions. This project will support, assess, and synthesize the research needs and information gaps of the loko iʻa, in order to co-develop solutions to adapt to the changes impacting these indigenous aquaculture systems. In close collaboration with fishpond practitioners and supporters, the project team will compile a comprehensive needs assessment to support the adaptive capacities of loko iʻa in relation to climate change impacts.
This project will produce the first comprehensive compilation of research ideas and needs within Hawai‘i’s community of fishpond managers, landowners, and stewardship organizations and will inform adaptation of fishpond practices to boost their resilience and sustainability in the face of a changing climate.
Assistant Professor, Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program, UH Mānoa