There is usually a small runway, built of two parallel rows of loosely piled stones from the gate to about 10 feet into the pond. As the fish congregate in this runway when the tide is going out, it is very easy to dip out the supply needed for market. Seines and gill nets are also swept around the inside of the ponds at times in taking fish from them, and as they are quite shallow this is done easily.
The sea ponds usually contain only the amaama, or mullet, and the awa. In the fresh and the brackish water ponds gold-fish, china-fish, oopu, opai [opae], carp, aholehole, and okuhekuhe are kept. Practically no attempt at fish-culture is made with these ponds. Besides the fish which come in through the open gates, the owner usually has men engaged at certain seasons of the year in catching young amaama and awa in the open sea and bays, and transporting them alive to the fish ponds. They are kept in the ponds until they attain a marketable size, and longer frequently if the prices quoted in the market are not satisfactory. They cost almost nothing to keep, as the fish find their own food in the sea ponds. It is supposed that they eat a fine moss which is quite common in the ponds.
There are probably not more than one-half the number of ponds in use to-day that there were thirty years ago. There are numerous reasons for this, the principal ones being as follows:
1. The native population is dying off rapidly, and where there were prosperous and populous villages in the early years of the last century there is practically a wilderness now. Owing to this depopulation there would be no sale for fish in the immediate neighborhood of the ponds there, the only place where it could be sold owing to the difficulty in transporting fish any distance without the use of ice, and the ponds would naturally be allowed to go to decay, the walls breaking down from the action of storms, and the sea filling them with sand when they are located on the immediate shore. This condition of affairs is especially prevalent on Molokai.
2. Two of the important crops of the islands are rice and taro. As both must be grown in a few inches of water, and are very profitable crops, a number of the interior ponds were turned into rice fields and taro patches. Oahu has shown the greatest changes in this regard.
3. On Hawaii ponds were filled up by the volcanic lava flows of 1801 and 1859. The Kamehameha fish pond, which was filled up in this manner in 1859, was said to have been the largest on the islands. Only traces of it are now to be found on the beach.
4. At Hilo, on Hawaii, some ponds, mostly quite small, are so filled with the water hyacinth that it is impossible to work them any more. This year a few of the best of these were cleaned out, but as there is very little money to be made out of them, and their ownership is in dispute, there is but little desire to do much to build them up.
5. Other ponds have been filled up to make way for building operations and for other purposes. This is especially true of ponds in and around Honolulu and Lahaina. There used to be a number of fish ponds on Lanai, but they have all been allowed to fall into decay.
A number of ponds are kept up by their owners merely as private preserves, as it were, the fish taken from them being either consumed by the owner’s household or given to friends. These are scattered all over the islands.
The following is a rough list of the fish ponds still in existence, or traces of which remain, together with their area and a statement so far as possible of their present condition. There is no great claim to accuracy in this list, as many of the ponds are in inaccessible regions of the islands, and in such cases the writer was obliged to depend upon others for reports as to their present condition:…