Mokauea Isle cleanup on World Ocean Day
By Mary Vorsino
Advertiser Urban Honolulu Writer
More than 100 volunteers are expected today to clean up trash that's washed ashore at the fishing village on Mokauea Island and plant 1,000 native plants.
The cleanup commemorates World Ocean Day, and is meant to raise awareness about sustainable living. Mokauea Island is home to one of the last fishing villages in the state. Four families live on the 10-acre spit of land, between Sand Island and Honolulu International Airport's reef runway.
"They want to be a sustainable island," said Donna Kahakui, founder of the educational group Kai Makana Foundation, which is organizing the big cleanup and is working to develop an educational center on the island. Kahakui and her group have worked for years to haul away trash that washes up on the island.
They are also trying to refurbish a Hawaiian fishing pond on Mokauea.
Volunteers will start the Mokauea cleanup at 9 a.m. by paddling out to the island from the Marine Education Training Center at Sand Island.
The event will run until 1 p.m. In addition to picking up trash, volunteers will plant native plants and root out invasive ones.
Mokauea was once a self-sustaining settlement, with a fishpond and vegetable gardens.
But in the mid-1970s, when it became known as "Squatter's Island," the state ordered 14 fishing families off the land and the Mokauea shacks were destroyed.
The fishermen fought back, though, and with the help of Save Our Surf organized the Mokauea Fishermen's Association, entering into a 65-year lease with the state in hopes of preserving the legacy of Hawai'i's fishing villages.
Kahakui said the island can teach people about sustainable living, from efforts to keep invasive plants at bay to the immense amount of work it takes to fish for dinner and a living. "It becomes its own little classroom," she said.