Happy Holidays and warm seasons greetings from HOK!
It has been a big year for HOK! The hard work of staff and dedication of volunteers has been rewarded most impressively at He'eia State Park Estuary Restoration.
This year we removed all the standing invasive mangrove trees from our restoration site. Over the summer native birds began to return and nest. The estuary became home to a families of Ae'o and `alae `ula. And the estuary waters have filled with nursery schools of native fishes!
See some of our endangered visitors below:
Kioea - Bristle-Thighed Curlew
Ae'o - Hawaiian Stilt
`alae ke`oke`o - Hawaiian Coot
`alae `ula - Hawaiian Gallinule
Did you know that our local waters are home to three species of mullet? Our shores are home to 'ama'ama (stipped mullet), uouoa (sharpnose mullet), and invasive kanda.
'Ama'ama, stripped mullet, is one of the most culturally important fish and a staple species of fishpond cultivation. Although fishing season is closed December - March, you can see schools of mullet at He'eia in both the fishpond with Pae'pae o He'eia and in the estuary stream with HOK.
The mullet schools at He'eia are mostly juveniles using the estuary as a nursery, Estuaries, where freshwater streams meet tidal waters, are important zones for young fish because they are highly productive and provide food and shelter. The schools in He'eia are typically mixed groups of 'ama'ama and invasive kanda. Kanda were accidentally introduced in the late 1950's and have flourished. Although they look and act similar to 'ama'ama, they only mature to about half the size of an adult 'ama'ama and compete for space with native juveniles.
Watching schools of young mullet can be entertaining because they are quite active and will jump out of the water. While 'ama'ama tend to jump singularly, kanda will jump in a group. It can be difficult to tell the difference between the juvenile fish from viewing in the water. The differences become clear in a side-by-side comparison as pictured below. 'Ama'ama scales are lined up laterally along the body giving the appearance of stripes. They also have a blue dot at the base of the pectoral fin. Kanda on the other hand have no coloration and have a regular scale pattern.
Restoring estuaries like He'eia plays an important role in the recovery of these important species. HOK is proud to work with the He'eia Partners to help reestablish our native fish populations.
2020 active legislative session is almost here! Wednesday, January 15 is opening day and always a blast to attend. We urge you to meet the Representatives, Senators, and staff. (PS there is a ton of FREE FOOD). Opening day makes the first day when floor sessions begin and the legislature is actively reviewing bills for the year in order to create new laws for Hawai'i. Session only lasts until the second week of May!
Most legislators have a pretty open door policy. If you are following any bills or have concerns in your community, it helps to voice your opinion and let your elected officials know what their constituents want and how they will be effected in real life.
Step 1: Know your elected officials
Find your legislator online. The windward legislators include: Senator Keohokalole, Representative Kitagawa, Representative Lee, Representative Matayoshi, Sentator Riviere, Senator Thielen, and Representative Thielen, Your representative is likely open to meeting and will respond to emails. Make sure if you reach out that you are clear about your issue and the reasoning behind your concerns.
Step 2: Track bills and testify
The state's legislative website has a lot of great tools to help you stay on track of things you are interested in. You can look up bills, set up automatic email reminder tracking, and submit written testimony. If you hear of something you are concerned about, it's a good idea to set up measure tracking. Hearing notices are usually at least 48 hours in advance and once a hearing is scheduled, you can submit written testimony. You will have to sign up on the website with your email but you are not required to attend the hearings in person. However, just remember that your testimony is public. If you want to attend the hearing, you can either stand on your testimony (literally just stand when they call your name), or you can go up front and say your piece. Legislators are not allowed to answer any questions when you are testifying, though after all the testimonies are given, they make ask you to come back up and answer some of their questions.
Step 3: Set up a meeting
If your concerns are not related to an active bill or you want to make a more personal impact, you can make a meeting with your legislator through their office. Personal meetings are also a great field trip for kids, nonprofits, and active community members. Remember to be personable. Finding a connection will help leave a lasting impression and ask questions. Legislators and staff are also very responsive to email if you don't have the time to come downtown.
It is often hard for us to see how we can make a difference. I want to assure you that I have seen bills become law or die in session because of single testimonies from constituents. Session is fast paced and it's own world. Legislators need constituents and professionals at times to act as advisers and law out the impacts of proposed legislation outside the confines of the capitol building. Your voice really can make a difference.
Also keep in mind that the legislature can recognize people and entities that have made significant contributions to the state and community during session. You can nominate individuals and entities by suggesting them to your legislature throughout session. Your voice can not only change the law, but also recognize the pillars and shining stars in your communities.
The mission of Hui o Ko`olaupoko is to protect ocean health by restoring the `aina: mauka to makai. This is done in partnership with stakeholders including interested citizens, non-governmental organizations, government, educational institutions and businesses while using and focusing on sound ecological principles, community input, and cultural heritage.