Something very fishy was going on at the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge recently, and it sure was fun!
The Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge and Kilauea Point Natural History Association sponsored a family fishing fun day, dubbed “Fish the Invasives,” earlier this month at the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge.
Some 17 keiki and their families had the opportunity to spend time in the wildlife refuge that is normally closed to the public in order to protect endangered native wildlife.
“We hope that many of the keiki who participated in our event got hooked on fishing,” said Thomas Daubert, KPNHA executive director, “and that they each developed a deeper understanding of the importance of caring for Hawaii’s precious wetlands.”
The participants learned about pono fishing, invasive species and information about the threatened and endangered wetland bird species in the refuge. Knowledgeable experts shared their mana‘o, and many volunteers came together to ensure that the kids hooked fish.
In just a few hours, and with lots of squeals of excitement, 104 invasive tilapias were pulled from the Hanalei River and a nearby refuge ditch. All of the fishing gear was provided thanks to a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, following a national initiative to help support sustainable hunting and fishing on wildlife refuges across the country.
In addition to learning how to fish, participants visited information stations featuring fish dissection, biology and barbless hook-making from volunteers from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Aquatic Resources, viewed microscopes providing views of pond water and local invertebrates, absorbed information from a refuge educator about endangered birds and the unique environment of the refuge, enjoyed bird-watching led by volunteers from the newly-formed Friends of Hanalei Refuge, and created colorful fish prints.
One of the farmers also hosted a walking tour and shared how to grow taro and what it’s like to work as a farmer on the Hanalei NWR, where livelihood includes helping to manage wetland habitat for endangered waterbirds.
Families left the event with fish, goody bags and newfound knowledge about invasive and endangered species and information about farming taro.