DLNR News Release: STREAMLINED APPLICATION PROCESS FOR FISHPOND RESTORATION SEES SUCCESS

Posted on Jul 20, 2022 in Latest Department News, Newsroom

(HONOLULU) – Seven years ago the DLNR Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands (OCCL) launched a streamlined application for loko i‘a (fishpond) repair and restoration as part of the Hoʻāla Loko Iʻa program. Since its beginning, 20 new fishpond restoration permits have been issued.

The Alakoko Fishpond on Kauaʻi, also known as the Menehune Fishpond, is a loko iʻa on the Hulēʻia River, approximately 3,280 feet upstream from Nāwiliwili Small Boat Harbor. The 40-acre fishpond is the largest on Kaua‘i and is situated on private land owned and managed by the nonprofit Mālama Hulē’ia. The organization was originally formed by a group of canoe paddlers who recognized mangrove was overgrowing and taking over the river and fishpond. The group formed and developed a community-based project to do mangrove restoration.

“Alakoko had really been let go and overgrown for the last several decades and mangrove was over growing,” Sarah Bowen, Executive Director of Mālama Hulē’ia said. “We were able to work with the OCCL to get a permit. It was just in the early stages of the new permit process, developed to help fishpond practitioners navigate the bureaucratic hoops of a host of different state regulatory agencies. Hoʻāla Loko Iʻa gives practitioners the capability of submitting one permit and having each agency review that one permit – it is really a blessing for organizations like ours.”

So far, Mālama Hulē’ia has removed 26 acres of mangroves at the fishpond. “We were able to get onto the nearly half-mile-long rock wall, but we had to cut our way through because the mangrove was so thick. You couldn’t tell how far away you were from the river or how far away you were away from the fishpond, it was so overgrown. It’s very different now,” Bowen said.

Since the launch of the new permit process in 2015, the number of fishpond restoration projects has increased significantly. “We began issuing these new permits because we found that practitioners were caught up in an endless cycle that they couldn’t extract themselves from,” OCCL Administrator Michael Cain said. “There were 17 different federal, state, and county regulations they needed to comply with, and it was a nearly impossible system to navigate, which resulted in very few sought-after or approved permits over the course of several decades. The current permit system encompasses almost all the required State permits.”

“The program was strengthened significantly when I signed Act 230, which waived Department of Heath water quality certifications for loko that are permitted under the program,” Governor David Ige said. “With these and other programs, we are better managing our water resources and the nearshore ocean waters that provide habitat for spectacular marine life and are a vital cultural link to the past for Native Hawaiians,” Governor Ige added.

Fishponds also support local food production and provide important ecosystem services, such as flood mitigation and sediment retention.

In consort with the streamlined application process OCCL created a permit application guidebook, available online.

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RESOURCES

(All images/video courtesy: DLNR)

HD Video: Alakoko Fishpond (March 23, 2022):

https://vimeo.com/731205743

(Shot sheet attached)

Photographs: Alakoko Fishpond (March 23, 2022):

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/rtqdnwe2fm490cf/AABb7E_VxtDYcTkVLpE4i9kca?dl=0

Permit Application Guidebook: https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/occl/files/2016/08/Loko-Ia-Book-FINAL-epub-single-080816.pdf

Media Contacts:

Madison Rice

Communications Specialist

Hawai’i Dept. of Land and Natural Resources

[email protected]

808-587-0396

Dan Dennison

Senior Communications Manager

Hawai’i Dept. of Land and Natural Resources

[email protected]

808-587-0396