Maui News

New Partnership Aims to Increase Understanding of Marine Ecosystems

December 26, 2019, 11:37 AM HST
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Maui Nui Marine Resource Council has launched a new partnership with the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, located in Kīhei.

A Memorandum of Agreement was signed this month between NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and MNMRC. The agreement opens the possibility of the two entities to work together to initiate new research, education, and outreach projects throughout Maui County.

“We are always open to new partnerships that help increase our understanding of our local marine ecosystems,” said Allen Tom, HIHWNMS Superintendent.

“As a community-based nonprofit working for clean ocean water and healthy coral reefs, we have firsthand experience with the tremendous power of partnerships and the accelerated positive outcomes that can result to benefit the marine environment,” said Robin Newbold, co-founder and Chair of Maui Nui Marine Resource Council. “We are very excited about our partnership with the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and the opportunity to collaborate on new research, education and conservation projects to improve our local marine eco-systems.”

“The HIHWNMS has collaborated with us on our unique, community-based Hui O Ka Wai Ola ocean water quality monitoring program, by providing free lab space for our water quality testing, and sharing meeting space where we have presented findings about our water quality data to the community,” says Newbold. “Clean ocean water is important for the health of all marine ecosystems around Maui and within the Hawaiian Islands.”

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The Hui O Ka Wai Ola program relies on the efforts of more than 35 local volunteers, who regularly test ocean water quality at 41 locations in South and West Maui, providing valuable data to the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Health Clean Water Branch.

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The HIHWNMS includes information about Hui O Ka Wai Ola ocean water quality program in its free public presentations, “45 Ton Talks” offered every Tuesday and Thursday at 11 a.m. at the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Visitor Center located at 726 South Kīhei Road in south Maui.

Maui Nui Marine Resource Council is also working on improving ocean water quality in Mauiʻs Māʻalaea Bay, an area where humpback whales are frequently observed during the months of November through April. MNMRC will be working in the 4,000 acre Pōhākea watershed, upslope of the bay, to reduce soil erosion and sediment-laden runoff into the ocean.

The HIHWNMS is one of 15 federally protected marine sanctuaries in the United States, which includes the nation’s largest National Marine Monument, Papahānaomokuākea, and the newest marine sanctuary, Mallows Bay National Marine Sanctuary, in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland.

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Each US National Marine Sanctuary is a federally designated area within United States waters that protects areas of the marine environment with special conservation, recreational, ecological, historical, cultural, archeological, scientific, educational or aesthetic qualities. The program began in 1972 in response to public concern about the plight of marine ecosystems. The National Marine Sanctuary System consists of 14 marine protected areas that encompass more than 783,000 square miles. Individual areas range from less than 1 to 583,000 square miles.

Ocean water quality monitoring is one of the programs supported by the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary through their donation of free lab space for the Hui O Ka Wai Ola ocean water quality monitoring program. The volunteer-based Hui O Ka Wai Ola program was co-created and is co-managed by Maui Nui Marine Resource Council, The Nature Conservancy and West Maui Ridge to Reef Initiative, working closely with the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Health Clean Water Branch.

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