Foundation Invests In O‘io Tagging Project, Windward Schools

A local foundation’s latest round of grants should benefit fishing practices in Kaneohe Bay, support self-improvement in public schools and nurture the interest of young minds in conservation careers.

Harold K.L. Castle Foundation recently awarded $69,500 to the University of Hawaii Foundation for phase II of the O’io Tagging Project, a decade-long research effort to track and study the popular bonefish found in Kaneohe Bay and on Oahu’s west side.

Alan Friedlander of the UH Fisheries Ecology Research Lab is principal investigator.

“Better scientific information for o’io is needed to ensure their proper management and thus sustainable harvest,” said Castle Foundation COO Terry George. “The continuation of this project will not only help protect the two species of o’io in Hawaii, but also will advance marine conservation in a way that involves Hawaii fishers.”

The foundation’s marine program officer Eric Co added that o’io are an ideal group of fishes to promote good fishing practices and encourage fishermen to contribute to the research. Since 2003 when the project began, 2,621 o’io have been tagged and released, and 58 of those have been recaptured.

Funds also will go to six other programs, including four with specific Windward benefits:

* $156,000 to Castle High School Redesign II, supporting the community’s ability to “help make learning engaging and relevant for all Castle students”

* $35,000 to the Castle-Kahuku Complex “to increase student awareness of and interest in natural resource management as a college and career pathway”

* $35,000 to Mental Health America of Hawaii to train Windward Community College faculty, staff and students to identify and respond to students with mental health challenges and reduce the stigma of mental illness campus-wide

* $62,500 to Sustain Hawaii to design and build learning stations at the Palaka Moon Learning Center and farm in Waimanalo.