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Ancient Hawaiians were the first islanders in the Pacific to make use of ponds and fish farming. Hawaiians developed aquaculture to supplement their other fishing activities. Permanent fishponds guaranteed a food supply for the population in lean times and increased the wealth of the managing chief. Tended ponds provided fish without requiring fishing expertise and harvesting the pond - unlike fishing at sea - was not weather-dependent.

Hawaiians built fishponds on Kaua`i, O`ahu, Lana`i, Maui, and Moloka`i with the highest concentration of ponds on Moloka`i. Hawai`i island had the fewest ponds due to its abrupt coast and lack of reef and lagoons.

Hawaiians stocked their fishponds with awa (milkfish), `ama`ama and `anae (two kinds of mullet), `ahole (sea-pig), `opae (shrimp), `o`opu (guppies), and puhi (eels). Other sea fish entering the ponds were ulua, kahala (amberjack), kumu (goatfish), manini (surgeon fish), `o`io (bonefish), and uhu (parrotfish).

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