Firm is told to restore portion of wetlands
An aquaculture farm has been ordered to restore a little less than an acre of wetlands at Kalaeloa in East Molokai.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued the order to D&J Ocean Farm Inc., which grows shrimp, ogo and tilapia.
The order, announced Thursday, is aimed at helping Kalaeloa wetlands provide habitat for water birds, including the endangered Hawaiian stilt.
D&J's lease from Bishop Estate occupies about 10 acres of wetlands.
The order requires D&J Ocean to remove soil and other fill on the property created while cutting a new channel for Keawanui Stream and re-vegetate it with native akulikuli-kai plants, the agency said.
Desmund Manaba, the firm's owner and manager, said his business will comply with the order.
Manaba said a large portion of the fill soil was on the property when he leased it in 1995.
He said his firm flattened out a hill and pushed the filled soil to create a 150-square-foot area for some aquaculture tanks.
The EPA said Manaba also filled about a quarter-acre of wetlands while cutting a new stream channel between January 2002 and early 2003.
Both wetlands fill activities require Clean Water Act permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Manaba said he was unaware federal permits were required before the work.
"We didn't know it was wetlands," he said.
The EPA order also requires the firm to submit plans to remove the fill material and restoration work and to submit progress reports about the work.