Community groups dedicated to restoring limu, or seaweed, along Hawaiʻi’s shorelines are hoping they haven’t missed the window of opportunity to designate 2022 the Year of the Limu.
A request for the designation stalled in the state legislature this session, and now limu lovers are calling on Gov. David Ige to revive it.
Wally Ito, a 68-year-old fisherman, scours the shoreline for limu at Oneʻula Beach in ‘Ewa. The best time to go is when the tide is receding so the limu gets caught on the reef.
"Look, look, look. Here’s manauwea. We got lipoa, wawaeiole, and ‘aʻalaʻula," he said, standing on the shore.
Limu was once so abundant here that the area was called the House of Limu. Limu was an integral part of the Hawaiian diet. It was used for medicine and ceremony.
Back in the 60s, it would wash up in piles on the sand, some two-feet high. But limu beds began to disappear by the late 90s.
"Limu is the base of the marine food chain. If we want to restore the fishery, it's learning about why we lost the limu, and try to bring the limu back," Ito said.
Ito spent more than a decade raising awareness about limu’s ecological, nutritional, and cultural significance. He follows in the footsteps of limu expert, the late Henry Chang Wo who organized monthly limu plantings in ‘Ewa and fought for the state’s first limu management area in Puʻuloa.
"He felt that one of his main purposes was to warn people to take care of their area, to take care of their ahupuaʻa, to ensure that what happened at ‘Ewa doesn't happen in their place," Ito told Hawaii Public Radio.
Ito now leads the Limu Hui, a statewide network of more than 60 community members on nearly every island working to restore limu along their coastlines.
"It's a growing movement and so this “Year of Limu” thing was important for us to continue creating awareness. All we ask is the state to recognize that limu was important and what we are doing is important."
The Limu Hui is urging Gov. Ige to use his executive powers to declare 2022 the Year of the Limu.
Nā Mamo O Mū’olea is proud to announce that we have awarded the Isabella Aiona Abbott Scholarship for the 2021 Fall Semester to two outstanding applicants.
The first recipient of the scholarship is Hana High School Senior Tu’upuamālamakahonua Shemuel Helekahi. Tu’u will recieve $1000 to help her pursue her college education at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Tu’u is planning on double majors in Political Science and Hawaiian Studies. Our entire board agrees she will make her ‘ohana, our Hāna community, and our Lāhui proud! Good luck and go get ‘um Tu’u!
The second recipient is Bailey Spry. Bailey is a second time recipient of the Dr. Isabella Kauakea Aiona Abbott scholarship. Bailey intends to graduate from UH Mānoa in the Spring of 2022 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Botany. Her particular interests are algae and fungi, and Bailey is considering a graduate degree with a focus on Hawaiian Marine Algae. In other words, Bailey plans to study Limu! After college Bailey intends to return to her home in Kipahulu to apply her education to supporting East Maui community food systems and conservation. Nā Mamo is proud and happy that our contributions to Bailey’s academic journey helps her to earn her degree. We look forward to her expertise benefiting our Hāna community and our Lāhui.
The Dr. Isabella Kauakea Aiona Abbott scholarship was established in 2010, in honor of Dr Abbott, a world-renowned Botanist, Ethnobotants and Limu specialist who was born here in Hana and went on to be the first Hawaiian woman to earn a Phd in Science. The scholarship is funded through donations and a Silent Auction which is held during our annual Hāna Limu Festival. To date, Na Mamo o Mu’olea has awarded $21,000 in scholarships to 18 recipients! The Covid-19 pandemic guidelines forced us to cancel the Limu Festival 2 years in a row, but we are able to continue awarding our scholarship this year through the generosity of private donors. We look forward for the day we can all safely gather again at our Limu Festival to continue to raise awareness of our makai ecosystems, ‘opihi, herbivore fish stock, and our precious limu.
Donations can be made to: Nā Mamo O Mū’olea P. O. Box 824 Hāna, HI 96713