Hawaiian Word of the Day: loko iʻa
loko iʻa: Fish pond.
Loko iʻa are ecosystems created by Hawaiians for subsistence fishing. One of the most noteworthy Hawaiian innovations in this system of aquaculture is the pani wai, or dam, sluice, levee, dike. Of these, the sluice gate to ponds was a masterful invention. It allows for the minnows or baby fish to swim in, grow large within the pond, reaching a size that is too large to swim out.
The Hawaiians’ irrigation system rotated water from streams and sometimes through hand built ʻauwai (canals), to irrigate crops in the lo’i (taro patches), then returned it to the stream of origin. This system relies on a steady natural flow of nutrients to course through the stream to the sea, helping limu (algae) to grow, and fish and lobster to feed. Hawaiians took advantage of these stream-nourished coastal areas and streams to build fishponds for bountiful harvests of food. Fishponds on some islands were as large as 48 acres in coastal areas.
Classification of fish ponds at coastal areas:
loko kuapa: fish pond made by building a wall on a reef
loko wai: freshwater pond or lake
loko iʻa kalo: combination fish pond and taro patch
loko ʻume iki: fishpond with lanes leading in and / or out, used for trapping fish
Classification of fish ponds at upland areas:
akuli: to dam a stream with leaves making a forest pool
mano: dam, stream or water source, headwaters, place where water is obstructed for distribution in channels. Mud dams were made for fish and crustaceans; fish shelters were built in mud shoals.