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New Marine 30×30 Initiative aims to improve management of nearshore waters

By Staff | Oct 24, 2019

KAANAPALI – Life in Hawaii has always been inextricably linked with the ocean, which is central to our livelihoods, culture, health and island lifestyle. Carefully refined Native Hawaiian management practices ensured continued abundance for the people of Hawaii for centuries.

However, in recent years, it has become apparent that both local and global impacts are affecting the health and resilience of Hawaii’s nearshore marine systems. In response to the declines, in 2016, Gov. David Ige announced the Sustainable Hawaii Initiative and the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ (DLNR) commitment to “achieve effective management in at least 30 percent of Hawaii’s nearshore marine environment by 2030,” known as the Marine 30×30 Initiative.

As the state agency tasked with “managing, conserving and restoring Hawaii’s aquatic resources and ecosystems for present and future generations,” the Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) is using the ambitious Marine 30×30 Initiative as a springboard to achieve nearshore management that is place-based, participatory, science-informed, adaptive and focused on building valuable partnerships with communities and nearshore users. A broad range of management tools will be offered to ensure effective management of our nearshore waters.

Effective management means actions that achieve shared goals and objectives for our nearshore waters. A healthy nearshore ecosystem with abundant resources, which allows the people of Hawaii to enjoy our coastal waters, support local livelihoods and feed our families.

Ultimate success relies on the involvement of individuals and groups across the state, many of whom are already working to restore abundance to our nearshore waters.

Building on Hawaii’s rich and effective traditional management practices and with guidance from a steering committee representing key cultural and scientific partners, DAR has outlined a path to effective nearshore management that progresses toward the 30×30 goal. The Nearshore Management Plan centers around four components with many sub-categories that include: 1) Marine Managed Areas/Marine Management Areas; 2) User Management; 3) Monitoring; and 4) Restoration.

New, existing and de facto marine managed areas within Hawaii contribute to protection of valuable nearshore ecosystems. These include Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Areas (CBSFAs), Fishery Management Areas (FMAs), Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), etc. Through in-depth stakeholder engagement, new marine managed areas (MMA) will be planned with the input of local communities.

Plans to improve existing MMAs include improving monitoring and ensuring management plans are in place. Multiple community meetings, “talk stories” and stakeholder discussions will offer ample opportunities to consider local knowledge, scientific data and spatial tools to design new marine managed areas suggesting place-based rules through the Chapter 91 public rule-making process.

DAR demonstrates its commitment to MMAs by gaining legislative support to hire a civil service Marine Managed Area Biologist position to expand capacity and resources available to support existing and newly designated areas.

User management will be addressed through outreach/education, enforcement/compliance and creation of new regulations. DAR outreach staff will participate in stakeholder meetings and provide guidance for the nearshore management team when interacting with communities on their island and/or region.

DAR will collaborate with the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) to enhance enforcement capacity and increase compliance within nearshore environments. DOCARE is in the process of hiring and training new officers through its DOCARE Academy and Field Training Program. Through DOCARE’s Makai Watch program, outreach regarding pono fishing practices in nearshore environments will be conducted in local communities. DOCARE and the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation will be consulted in the rulemaking process to ensure enforceability for proposed marine rules. New and existing regulations will reflect current knowledge and best practices related to sustainable harvest of nearshore fisheries, including size and bag limits and gear restrictions.

Comprehensive and standardized monitoring will measure progress, denote milestones and identify areas where management actions need to be further adapted. Monitoring of the MMAs will occur by DAR and partner organizations such as the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and The Nature Conservancy within the Hawaii Monitoring and Reporting Collaborative.

Success of the MMAs will be measured through biological/ecological, social, cultural, economic and governance indicators identified in key stakeholder workshops. These indicators represent the natural and human dimensions of each MMA. Previous discussions revealed fishing and tourism to be the most directly impactful on nearshore marine environments, so these activities will be monitored specifically.

Other marine restoration components of DAR will be critical to this initiative. DAR’s restoration team will work with the Nearshore Plan team to incorporate aquatic invasive species, runoff and artificial reefs into management of nearshore areas where relevant.

In outlining a path to effective management for Hawaii’s nearshore waters, this is an invitation to Hawaii’s residents to work with DAR and its partners to achieve our shared goal of a healthy nearshore ecosystem and abundant fish, which allow the people of Hawaii and our visitors to enjoy nearshore waters, support local livelihoods and feed their families.

For those interested in talking with the Marine 30×30 Planning Team, as well as learning about mauka to makai stewardship efforts in West Maui, attend the tenth annual Ridge to Reef Rendezvous and Keiki and ‘Ohana Catch & Release Fishing Tournament at Kahekili Beach Park (Old Airport Beach in North Kaanapali) on Saturday, Oct. 26.

For more information, visit West Maui Kumuwai’s website (www.WestMauiKumuwai.org > News & Events) or www.facebook.com/WestMauiKumuwai), e-mail WestMauiKumuwai@gmail.com or call (808) 283-1631.