YPCCC/Pulitzer Center Climate Reporting Fellowship Presentation

Climate change and overdevelopment threaten Hawaiian fishponds. The work caretakers are doing now will define the longevity and legacy of the fishponds. Image by Grace Cajski. United States, 2021.

Hawaiian fishponds are sources of rich cultural history, place-based learning, and traditional ecological knowledge. By restoring the ponds—laborious work, made more difficult by urbanization, pollution, and invasive species—modern Hawaiian aquaculturists are revitalizing the surrounding ecosystem, reestablishing food sovereignty, strengthening the local economy, and uplifting the Indigenous community.

However, climate change is already measurably warming the ocean and provoking king tides. It is threatening restoration efforts, and the potential for the islands to reliably and sustainably produce food for themselves. There’s no documentation of the changes at the ponds, especially detailing how climate change is affecting the ponds communally and individually.

In this project, the 2022 YPCCC/Pulitzer Center Climate Reporting Fellow, Grace Cajski (BF ’23+1), explores the relationship between climate change and fishponds. How is climate change already affecting the ponds, according to scientists, fishpond managers, lawmakers, and landowners? How do they predict climate change will affect the ponds in the future? How are the fishponds, individually and as a group, adapting to climate change presently, and in the future? Lastly, how can fishponds be tools to mitigate climate change?

In examining these questions, Grace demonstrates the extent of climate change’s effects on the world, and how the world is responding. You can learn more about this project at the Pulitzer Center website, and you can read Grace’s reporting in the publication Honolulu Civil BeatThis is a story of hope, perseverance, and connection, in addition to a history, an elegy, and a warning. It is for local and global audiences, for future generations, and for the fishpond community.

On Wednesday November 2, 2022, Grace Cajski and science writer Claire Caulfield presented their work, discussed science and environmental writing, and provided information on the YPCCC/Pulitzer Center Climate Reporting Fellowship.