Behind the busy streets of Haleiwa town, sits a 12 acre fishpond that provides a small glimpse of old Hawaii.
The 400-year old loko i’a could soon provide fish for the North Shore community, something that hasn’t been done in the area for centuries.
The non-profit Malama Loko Ea needs the communities help to make that dream a reality.
“This was used for the food supply for the Ali’i, instead of tapping into the communities resources,” Rae DeCoito, executive director for Malama Loko Ea fishpond explains.
For 30 years, it sat neglected. In 2008, Kamehameha schools opened it to the community and Malama Loko Ea has had thousands of volunteers help restore the area.
These rare fishponds are a mixture of fresh water from the mountains and salt water from the ocean and it provides food naturally.
After decades of development, the number of functioning fishponds has decreased from several hundred to about 40 statewide. The most still existing on Molokai.
The pond at this Haleiwa fishpond should be 4-feet deep, but is only 1 feet deep, and it’s suffocating the fish.
“It’s too hot and there’s not enough food for them,” Decoito said. “So for us, to get to a fully functional fishpondm we need to dredge.”
There’s only one refurbished dredge available to deepen the pond so the fish can thrive. A brand new one would cost much more. Decoito says the refurbished dredge, including labor costs, is just shy of $500,000, so a fundraiser was started to help this fishpond and others across the state.
The goal of this loko ea is to be able to provide fish to the North Shore community by 2020.
DeCoito says the fishpond is known for delicious ‘ama’ama. Other fish found here include Ahole, Kakou, Moi, and Papio.
Malama Loko Ea encourages volunteers to come every third Saturday to help care for the fishpond and hopes to purchase the dredge by early next year.
“It’s a treasure to this community for sure,” DeCoito said.
The group has already raised nearly $200,000 for the refurbished dredge. They are also accepting in-kind donations to help the fishpond. More information and how to donate can be found here.