State officials are fighting an invasion — along the Na Pali Coast — which is a very special area of Kauaʻi.
Fishermen first reported the seeing black-chin tilapia — which are not native to Hawaiʻi’s waters.
Officials were alarmed at what they found.
Kaʻili Shayler is Fish and Habitat Monitoring Coordinator with the Division of Aquatic Resources with the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
“We saw thousands of tilapia and from small fry up to some bigger ones, all along the shoreline, kind of where the fresh water is still coming in.”
It’s believed they traveled to the ocean from a ditch system on Kauaʻi’s West Side.
And the pressure is on to contain them, in order to preserve the algae that local species rely on for survival.
Shayler says, “We don’t want it to proliferate down the coast. We haven’t quite seen these numbers, you know, at Keʻe, at Lumahaʻi, in Wainiha, in Hanalei, and we kind of want to prevent ’em from going that way.”
In a single outing, the DLNR pulled some five dozen black-chin tilapia from the water.
Shayler’s team is working to get a special permit to allow for a sort of community clean-up.
“To have some community members from the West Side and the North Shore communities to come and help out with removal — so we’ll probably get a smaller-mesh net size, paʻipaʻi net, and we’ll surround them and hopefully try to pull up bigger numbers.”
The Oahu Invasive Species Committee says each of us can help prevent the spread of invasive species:
By not importing or keeping restricted plants or animals —
And by reporting possible problems to https://www.643pest.org/ or by calling 643-PEST (7378).