The Nature Conservancy has awarded a contract to Pono Pacific Land Management LLC for large scale removal of invasive algae from Maunalua Bay. This contract is expected to create 50 new jobs in addition to the 25 jobs already supported by this project. The new jobs will last for about 12 months. After that period, Pono Pacific hopes to assist workers find meaningful ongoing employment in conservation or related fields.
This work is made possible by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) award to The Nature Conservancy, incooperation with Mālama Maunalua, for Maunalua Bay Reef Restoration. This stimulus funding to restore coastal habitats scales up three years of volunteer efforts to pull invasive algae out of the bay, and enables these organizations to create jobs and accelerate invasive algae removal - the first step in restoring habitat in Maunalua Bay.
Pono Pacific was selected through a competitive process; 5 local companies responded to a request for proposals issued in October 2009.
“We are very pleased to be working with a local conservation services company - Pono Pacific - to create jobs in Hawai‘i and put people to work restoring our vital marine resources. We would like to thank NOAA and the U.S. Congress for providing funding to help us work together in Hawai‘i to restore our ocean environment,” said Suzanne Case, executive director of the Conservancy’s Hawai‘i chapter.
Interviews and hiring will begin immediately; work in the water in Maunalua Bay will likely begin by mid-to late-February. Pono Pacific will host community meetings, in cooperation with the Conservancy and Mālama Maunalua, to inform the public about the project and get feedback prior to beginning work.
“We are excited by this opportunity to serve the community, steward our natural resources, and create new jobs,” said John Leong, President and CEO, Pono Pacific. “This project truly demonstrates what can happen when everyone comes together for a common cause.”
Pono Pacific also plans to work with a local non-profit, the Pacific Gateway Center, to convert some of the invasive algae to fertilizer using “The Green Machine.” The process converts the algae to liquid, preventing reproduction and generating rich, low-cost organic fertilizer. If successful, this venture could create additional green jobs and generate income to continue the restoration work. “The Green Machine” is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Hawai‘i Department of Human Services (DHS).
Invasive alien algae have been identified as one of the biggest threats to Hawaii's coral reef ecosystems. The dominant invasive alga in Maunalua Bay, Avrainvillea amadelpha (leather mud weed), was first reported in 1981 and today is found in high densities over 54 acres of once thriving shallow reef flats. However, areas cleared by community volunteers over the last three years have remained free of invasive algae, and scientists are finding growing evidence of the return of native species.
The long-term goal is to restore the bay to the point where the ecosystem can naturally control the growth of invasive algae. This requires reducing sedimentation and nutrient inputs from land-based sources and increasing populations of plant-eating species like parrotfish and sea urchins. The Conservancy and Mālama Maunalua are working with the Army Corps of Engineers to reduce land-based pollutants flowing into the bay, working with fishers to increase fish abundance, and educating residents about how they can help reduce pollution in the bay.
For more information on job opportunities and project updates visit www.nature.org/hawaii.
To apply for a job, fill out an application at www.ponopacific.com.
Mālama Maunalua is a community-based group that is helping to care for the Maunalua region of southeast O`ahu. Mālama Maunalua is dedicated to creating a healthy Maunalua region, described as the area from Kawaihoa (Koko Head area, East O’ahu) to Kūpikipiki‘ō (Black Point) to the Ko`olau ridgeline. To learn more visit Mālama Maunalua online at www.malamamaunalua.org.
Pono Pacific provides cost-effective ecosystem restoration services to aid conservation agencies and landowners in their efforts to preserve and protect the environment throughout Hawaii and the Pacific. Pono Pacific hopes to make natural resource management and conservation become more efficient, effective, and simpler for both landowners and managers. To learn more visit www.ponopacific.com
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.