For decades, fishpond practitioners have identified the complex permitting process association with fishpond restoration as an obstacle to the restoration of traditional Hawaiian fishpond systems and their related traditional cultural activities.
In response to feedback from an aquaculture workshop co-hosted in June 2011 by the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary (sanctuary) and the University of Hawai‘i Aquaculture Program, the sanctuary hosted a meeting in March 2012 to facilitate initial discussions about the potential to streamline the permitting process for fishponds. The Department of Land and Natural Resources Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands and Department of Health participated in this meeting, along with fishpond practitioners and other agency representatives with relevant roles in the permitting process for fishpond restoration. A de facto team was formed among the National Marine Fisheries Services Pacific Islands Regional Office, Office of the National Marine Sanctuaries Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, and Department of Land and Natural Resources Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands to continue the coordination effort among agencies, and to consider the recommendations in the Senate Resolution. The team also supported a conference gathering of Hui Mālama Loko I‘a, which is an informal statewide network of fishpond practitioners by securing funding through University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant and providing input on the conference agenda to ensure discussion time for permit issues.
Recognizing the need to have additional assistance to complete the necessary documentation and applications, Conservation International (Hawai`i Fish Trust) generously agreed to provide financial support to pay for a consultant to assist in the process. Honua Consulting was selected to serve as a contractor on the effort.
The team, including Honua Consulting, then attended the Hui Mālama Loko I`a conference in Waipā on Kaua`i in November 2012 to obtain additional information from the practitioners about their permitting needs. In addition to collecting numerous surveys from the practitioners about the activities taking place at the individual fishpond systems, the team worked with the practitioners to develop a declaration in support of the overall statewide effort.
The declaration was provided to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, who promptly sent their support for the declaration.
The team has also learned that the Office of Planning has concurrently initiating action to obtain a State of Hawai`i Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) Federal Consistency General Concurrence for Minor Federal Permit Activities for Hawaiian Fishpond Restoration, Repair, Maintenance and Reconstruction (dated November 15, 2012).
In coordination with the state and federal agencies, Honua Consulting is developing an environmental assessment for a general permit for statewide programmatic restoration activities. The objective of the proposed action is the restoration, repair, maintenance and reconstruction of loko i`a (traditional Hawaiian fishpond systems) across the pae`āina of Hawai`i (Hawaiian archipelago). This action will stimulate traditional Hawaiian cultural activities, the restoration of fishpond systems and their related ecosystem services. Fishpond systems were a vital component of Hawai`i’s pre-contact native Hawaiian communities; their degradation was caused by the urbanization and colonization brought and fostered by foreign contact. Fishponds are identified as valuable cultural and ecological resources that positively impact coastal ecosystems and their adjacent communities. Their restoration would significantly and positively impact coastal ecosystems and communities across Hawai`i.
The proposed action includes the development of a Statewide Programmatic General Permit and Programmatic Agreement that facilitates the restoration, repair, maintenance and reconstruction of traditional Hawaiian fishpond systems across Hawai`i. This program would create a discretionary streamlined and simplified permitting process for obtaining approval to undertake activities related to the repair, reconstruction and maintenance of traditional Hawaiian fishpond systems. This process would provide fishpond owners and operators the option to obtain the necessary federal and state approvals for restoration, repair, maintenance and reconstruction through submitting a single application to the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Office of Coastal and Conservation Lands (OCCL). The application would then undergo review by an advisory panel consisting of member representatives from the following federal and state agencies:
- DLNR OCCL
- DLNR SHPD
- DOH CWB
- NMFS PIRO
- Traditional Fishpond Practitioner
- Additional members as necessary
Activities Eligible for Application
The following range of activities would be eligible for application under this program:
(a) Restoration, reconstruction, repair and maintenance of fishpond walls and sluice gates, including but not limited to the placement, movement, manipulation and temporary stockpiling of necessary materials.
(b) Placement, movement, manipulation and temporary stockpiling of small stones or rubble for interior wall fill (`ili`ili).
(c) Silt removal by hand and/or mechanized equipment from within fishponds.
(d) Vegetation removal by hand and/or mechanized equipment from within fishponds and from fishpond walls.
(e) Periodic post-restoration maintenance activities required to facilitate the long-term use, management and operation of fishponds.
(f) Use of hand and/or operation of fishponds.
(g) Use of hand and/or mechanized equipment to conduct fishpond restoration activities.
(h) Placement and use of aquaculture pens, nets and/or cages within fishponds.
(i) Use of harvesting equipment within fishponds.
Proposed Project Areas / Geographic Areas
The proposed project areas include the coastal land areas, shoreline areas and nearshore ocean waters within the State of Hawaii where existing Hawaiian fishponds are located. The specific geographic area is defined by the type of fishpond. This geographic area was selected purposefully to be consistent with the State of Hawai`i Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) Federal Consistency General Concurrence for Minor Federal Permit Activities for Hawaiian Fishpond Restoration, Repair, Maintenance and Reconstruction dated November 15, 2012.
Fishponds are categorized into six main types according to the “Hawaiian Fishpond Study” (DHM Planners, Inc. and Public Archaeology Section, Applied Research Group, Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, June 1989; based on information by William K. Kikuchi, 1973, Hawaiian Aquacultural System). Each fishpond type is specific to a particular geographic area.
Type I – Loko I`a Kuapā: A fishpond of littoral water whose side or sides facing the sea consist of a stone or coal wall usually containing one of more sluice gates.
Type II – Loko I`a Pu`uone: An isolated shore fishpond usually formed by the development of barrier beaches building a single, elongated sand ridge parappel to the coast and containing one of more ditches and sluice gates.
Type III – Loko I`a Wai: An inland freshwater fishpond which is usually either a natural lake or swamp, which can contain ditches connected to a river, stream, or the sea, and which contain sluice gates.
Type IV – Loko I`a Kalo: An inland fishpond utilizing irrigated taro plots.
Type V – Loko I`a `Ume`iki: A fishtrap which is similar to a Type I – loko i`a kuapā and has various combinations of inward and outward leading lanes.
Type VI – Kaheka and Hapunapuna: A natural pool or holding pond.
Timeline (these are anticipated activity dates, actual activities dates may change)
Current action is highlighted
|Action||Anticipated Dates||Status / Additional Information and Opportunity for Public Review and Engagement|
|A coastal zone management program consistency statement for Hawaiian fishponds||Office of Planning Coastal Zone Management||Completed March 2013 by Office of PlanningPublic Comment Period Closed April 12, 2013|
|Environmental Assessment for Programmatic Activities (submitted to Office of Environmental Quality and Control)||Anticipated Submission Date April 2013Public Review April – May 2013Final Environmental Assessment / FONSI Issued October 23, 2013||Published in Environmental Notice on April 23, 2013 30 Public Comment Period Closes May 23, 2013 Information available at www.honuaconsulting.com/lokoia|
|General Permit (issued by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)||Anticipated Release Date of Draft General Permit March 2014Public Review March – April 2014||U.S. Army Corps of Engineers currently preparing General PermitApplication will be published for public review|
|Water quality certification for Hawaiian fishponds (issued by State of Hawaii Department of Health to U.S. ACE)||Anticipated Submission Date March 2014||Application will be prepared concurrently to General Permit by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers|
|One master conservation district use application and programmatic agreement process that applies to all Hawaiian fishponds||Anticipated Completion Date March 2014||Application submitting to OEQC on January 29, 2014 for publication in February 8, 2014 Environmental Notice Public meetings will be held on multiple islands in February – March 2014Information available at www.honuaconsulting.com/lokoia|
In 2013, KUA, a 501 (c)(3) organization, was awarded $250,000 from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to support fishpond restoration activities authorized under this program. They were awarded an additional undisclosed sum from NOAA grant funds to support permitting and capacity building activities in traditional Hawaiian fishponds. Fishpond groups looking for technical support or capacity building should contact KUA through their website.
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