|Miloli'i's Kalanihale community organization which recently held its Lawai'a Camp with a focus on corals, welcomes a new|
effort called Ākoʻakoʻa to build and restore the reefs. Photo from Hawai'i Marine Education & Research Center
THE MILOLI'I COMMUNITY'S EFFORT TO PRESERVE AND RESTORE ITS CORAL REEF AND SUSTAINABLE NATIVE FISHERY is set to receive support from a new effort from Arizona State University and partners. It's called Ākoʻakoʻa and ASU describes it as "a new collaborative effort to seed renewed connection between human, coral communities in Hawai'i."
ASU recently released an online story about the effort, quoting Ka'imi Kaupiko, President of Kalanihale in Miloli'i, who recently completed a Lawai'a Camp summer session with students focusing on coral. He said, “We support the work of ASU and the Hawai'i Marine Education & Research Center to malama (care for) the corals of west Hawai'i. The reefs from Ūpolu to Ka Lae are one of the most diverse systems in all of Hawai'i, but with the effects of climate change, we need to be proactive in caring for them.” ASU describes Kalanihale as "a grassroots organization designed to improve the educational, environmental and
|Ka'imi Kaupiko and Lawai'a Camp goers in the waters of Miloli'i.|
Photo from Hawai'i Marine Education & Research Center
ASU reports that a key part of the collaboration with communities like Miloli'i is a new state-of-the-art coral research and propagation facility located at the joint Ridge to Reef Restoration Center in Kailua-Kona. The center is under construction now in partnership with a land restoration organization called Terraformation. The coral facility will be the largest in the world when completed and will become the hub for testing corals for subsequent reef restoration. “These resources are an exciting development for the multiple partners and communities working closely together to scale up active coral restoration in Hawaii,” said Carrie Selberg Robinson, director of the NationalOceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Office of Habitat Conservation.
ʻĀkoʻakoʻa shares a dual meaning: 'to assemble' and 'coral.' “For decades, our original program focused on diagnosing land and reef problems using high-tech satellite, airborne and field technologies,” said Greg Asner, director of ASU’s Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science and a longtime resident of Hawai'i. “The new program further expands this diagnostic work, but it focuses far more effort on interventions that support Hawai'i’s communities, both coral and human, as one force.” Asner said lessons learned in ʻĀkoʻakoʻa will be shared with communities across the state and worldwide. “Our successes and failures will lead to new perspectives and know-how, which will be broadcast to a network of partners and participants through our Allen Coral Atlas program and ASU School of Ocean Futures. As a stage for the integration of cultural practice, management and science, ʻĀkoʻakoʻa will seed a deeper connection between human and coral communities in an era of climate change.”
|Local students studying the Miloli'i Reef. Photo from Hawai'i Marine Education & Research Center|
In its own publication, ASU stated that the aim of the new collaboration is to "preserve and restore vitality to Hawai'i's coral reefs and the health of its coastlines. The community-based effort looks to fuse state-of-the-art science programs with the leadership and cultural knowledge of Hawai'i’s community partners to enable coastal and reef sustainability for generations to come."
ʻĀkoʻakoʻa will operate with a donation of $15 million from the Dorrance family and Dorrance Family Foundation, plus funds from U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz’s office, state Department of Land & Natural Resources' Division of Aquatic Resources, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration and ASU. “It is our kuleana to protect and care for what we love, our coral reefs and the species they harbor, and all of Hawai'i,” said Jacquie and Bennett Dorrance in a joint statement. “Success in saving our reefs relies on ‘laulima,’ many hands working together. The Dorrance family and the Dorrance Family Foundation hope this investment ignites action and vital funding, and we encourage others to join us in support of this tremendous effort. The time is now.”
The ASU story further quotes Asner, an ASU
|Students help to survey the health of the Miloli'i reef.|
Photo from Hawai'i Marine Education & Research Center
The ASU story also notes that "over the past 50 years, Hawaiian coral communities have undergone an alarming decline due to pollution, climate change and overfishing. Asner's group has spent the last decade monitoring these impacts, from the land, sea and air; from ocean heat waves to agricultural runoff to the chemistry of the oceans. He said it’s finally time to turn the tide by more deeply connecting human and coral communities for a more resilient future. That notion was seconded by several of Hawaii’s most respected community leaders who are key partners in the initiative."
Kohala Center, said that her "elders stressed the
importance of the relationship between the uplands and the sea, and that for everything in the ocean, there
is a partner on the land." She said, “The land partner is to protect its ocean partner. We are taught to ‘mālama i ka ʻāina’ (care for and respect the land. When the land is healthy and clean, water flows to the shores, then our corals and fish will flourish. We strive for a world of balance and righteousness.”
ASU announced: "With major contributions from community leaders, cultural practitioners, ecologists, data scientists and global information systems experts, the initial core focus for restorative work will be on the western side of the Hawai'i Island, comprising 120 miles of reef and one of the largest coral communities in the Hawai'i Archipelago.
| Dr. Greg Asner with Hawaiian students. |
Photo from Arizona State University.
ASU President Michael M. Crow said ʻĀkoʻakoʻa and the university’s engagement in Hawai'i stems from its official charter, which includes commitments to “advance research and discovery of public value” and to “assume fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves. We recognize that the health of our planet is tied to the health of countless interconnected systems,” Crow said. “What happens on land affects the health of our oceans, so threats to our coral reefs stand to impact everyone. This collaboration represents the vast potential to accelerate positive change by joining scientific knowledge and cultural wisdom to address a critically important challenge facing our world.”
|Before Calvin, a view from South Point out to sea.|
Photo by Richard Taylor