Dozens of people work in shallow water near shore to help restore fishponds in Hawaii.
Kiholo Fishpond Volunteer workdays hasten fishpond restoration. © Nancy Erger

Stories in Hawai'i

Working with Partners to Restore Coastal Habitat

The actions we take today will impact the condition of Hawai'i’s reefs and fisheries…in our own lifetimes and long into the future.

TNC teams work at coastal sites and across ahupuaʻa, helping community groups and government agencies develop and implement robust restoration plans to bolster the resilience of marine environments and enhance coastal protection. The efforts blend the lastest science with traditional practices and local expertise and have garnered strong support from community volunteers, academic institutions, and government partners. Working hand-in-hand to demonstrate effective management, we are seeing signs of success across the islands, from increasing fish and ʻopihi populations to native species returning to restored habitats.

  • At Ka'ūpūlehuPuakō and East Maui, we are working to build the resilience of the nearshore reefs that sustain Hawaiʻi’s unique culture, marine life and coastal communities.
  • At Kīholo Preserve, we are restoring an ancient coastal fishpond—a traditional aquaculture system that absorbs sediments and nutrients, preventing them from flowing onto the reef, and increases local food production.
  • In Heʻeia, we are removing invasive vegetation and replanting the wetlands with traditional lo‘i kalo (taro fields), which retain and are nourished by the sediments and nutrients that would otherwise flow onto Kāneʻohe Bay’s reefs.
  • At Olowalu on Maui and South Kohala on Hawaiʻi Island, we are working with a coalition of public, private and community groups to reduce pressures on reefs from mauka to makai so the reefs can recover and thrive long into the future.

Increasing evidence shows that these locally based collaborative efforts improve coastal health and sustainability. Here in Hawaiʻi, they are also helping to perpetuate Hawaiian culture and increase local food security. That's why we also support dozens of community groups working to restore coral reefs, fisheries, ancient fishponds and anchialine pools across the islands through local peer learning networks where we share knowledge, experiences and strategies to enhance each other’s restoration and management.

As the Ōlelo No‘eau reminds us, ʻAʻohe hana nui ke alu ‘ia. (No task is too big when done together by all.)