Volunteers are close to filling in a gap at a historic fishpond in Kaneohe in an effort to restore aquaculture and traditional fishing practices.
The caretakers of Heeia Fishpond have been prevented from a full restoration by a hole, or puka, which was opened up when the fishpond wall was breached by devastating floodwaters 50 years ago.
The gap was originally more than 200 feet long, but over the year,s caretakers and volunteers have been slowly closing it, using traditional methods with coral and lava rocks.
Paepae o He'eia, the private nonprofit that cares for the fishpond, is now working to close a funding gap.
"The ultimate goal is to close this puka, restore this fishpond in its entirety, and to be able to cultivate fish, aquaculturally, in a traditional fashion," said Hi'ilei Kawelo Paepae o He'eia's executive director.
The group wants to raise $100,000 to fill the puka. So far it has received $62,000 in donations and grants. Dozens of volunteers also showed up Saturday for the first of several volunteer work days at the fishpond.
"I think it's just really awesome an neat, and it's out in nature and the fresh air, and we're really helping to preserve the culture and the wall as well," said volunteer Anastasiya Melnyk, a senior at Castle High School.
He'eia Fishpond was built 600 to 800 years ago. It's believed that it was one of 400 fishponds that used to ring island coastlines. There are perhaps 40 to 50 fishponds left.
Volunteers have been working to clear the fishpond of invasive mangroves and seaweed. But it's pani ka puka -- filling the hole -- that will retire the fishpond as a whole.
"The restoration of the fishpond is important, not only to the culture, but to the health of the community, in the way of possibility being able to provide fish for the community cone again," said Kawelo.
Paepae o He'eia hopes to have the rest of the money raised and the puka filled by the end of the summer.
Related link: Paepae o He'eia
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