Community network meeting
Community network meeting Community network meeting © TNC

Stories in Hawaii

Strengthening Conservation Management and Leadership

Enduring conservation relies on effective management, supporting policies, and local leadership.

Strengthening Management

Dozens of community groups across the islands are pursuing co-management of marine resources in partnership with the State of Hawai'i. With a deep understanding of ancient Hawaiian management practices and extensive knowledge of local conditions, these groups are working to restore and sustain ancient fishponds, ancestral fishing grounds, and other areas vital to Hawaiʻi’s people, culture, and economy.

TNC helps communities blend the best available science and local knowledge to develop robust conservation plans to guide their work, design and implement effective management strategies, and monitor changes over time to assess management effectiveness. TNC also works with community partners to build proposals and understanding of and support for formal protection of their areas, such as through the State’s Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area (CBSFA) designation established to preserve Native Hawaiian subsistence fishing practices. 

Working with government agencies, we also help develop plans to strengthen management of protected areas, such as the ‘Ahihi-Kina‘u Natural Area Reserve and Molokini Marine Life Conservation District.

Building Leadership

To build and strengthen local leadership, we interviewed leaders at the forefront of community-based marine conservation and compiled their personal insights about how to build conservation partnerships that deliver lasting results, so current and future generations can benefit from this hard-won knowledge.    

TNC also coordinates regional peer learning networks where community leaders share management tools, expertise, and lessons learned with dozens of other community groups working across Maui Nui and along Hawaiʻi Island’s west coast. The networks provide a forum for communities to build strong ties with each other and with the government agencies responsible for managing Hawai'i’s marine life. Through support of these networks, TNC is helping to increase the effectiveness of community-based co-management and harness the power of collective citizen action.

·       The Maui Nui Makai Network was launched by communities pursuing collaborative management of coastal sites on Maui, Moloka'i, and Lānai to ensure Hawaiʻi’s natural resources and cultural traditions thrive.

·       The Kai Kuleana Network was launched by communities working to restore coral reefs and fish populations on the west coast of Hawai'i Island so they continue to provide for their needs.

·       The Hui Loko network was launched to enhance management of anchialine pools and revitalize fishponds along Hawai'i Island's west coast, so these formerly productive aquaculture systems can once again provide food for the community. 

Preparing Future Leaders

Of course, we also need leaders to carry this work forward. That’s why we provide promising young conservationists with internships and fellowships to gain the skills and confidence for successful careers in conservation. Our interns and fellows gain practical knowledge and hands-on training in all aspects of marine conservation, as they work side-by-side with conservation professionals, local community partners, non-profits, and government agencies.

By supporting these leaders and working together to blend science and traditional practices and demonstrate effective restoration, we are building the movement and momentum required to restore Hawaiʻi's reefs and fisheries, so they can support healthy, prosperous communities long into the future.