We move forward together – participants of the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress participated in the reconstruction of a 600-year-old Hawaiian fishpond

In early September, the 2016 Congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) was held in Hawaii. The union assists governments and environmental protection agencies with preserving our natural environment and protecting the natural assets of our planet Earth. Among the many programmes that accompanied the professional congress, the attending nature conservation specialists could take part in a number of events associated with water. Participants were offered a glimpse of traditional Hawaiian aquaculture through the reconstruction of a traditional fishpond.

The E Alu Pū (We Move Forward Together) Network Is a community whose members have recognised that development is not only a privilege, but it also involves a number of obligations. They learn from each other continuously and in the course of their operation they pay particular attention to the protection of their natural environment. This year was the first in which, along with indigenous people, others could also attend the gathering of the community. Prior to the World Conservation Congress, representatives of a total of 30 countries including politicians and leading nature conservation specialists attending the congress also attended this special event. The primary objective of the programme was knowledge sharing, for participants to share their best practices and to reinforce their attachment to their own natural treasures.

In the morning of the second day, attendees participated in the reconstruction of a traditional Hawaiian fishpond. Locals breed edible fish in the traditional fishponds built in the ocean using volcanic stones, making the work of the fishermen easier. Despite the unfavourable weather, the guests worked together with the locals to begin the reconstruction of the fishpond, and working step by step, in teams, they used traditional technology to move the massive volcanic rocks to build a suitable wall. After that, the group made nests for the young fish to protect them against carnivorous fish and birds while they grow. The fish are enticed to enter the newly completed fishpond using strings of seaweed.

Throughout the project, indigenous Hawaiians and guests from all around the world worked together, learning about traditional local aquaculture while renovating a 600-year-old traditional fishpond. The main result of their time together was that all the participants agreed: it is now enough of talking, the time for action has come, and we can no longer delay taking an active stance to protect our natural treasures.

Photographs by Holladay Photo, Mark Holladay Lee

Photographs by Holladay Photo, Mark Holladay Lee

The report of the participants is available in English at the website of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.