Maui News

ʻĀina Momona and Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale Sanctuary Work Together for Moloka‘i Outreach

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Keawanui Fishpond, Molokaʻi

Keawanui Fishpond, Molokaʻi; Photo Credit: Matt McIntosh/NOAA

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and the nonprofit organization ʻĀina Momona signed an agreement to develop new outreach and educational projects for the community of Moloka‘i. It is the first such agreement between the sanctuary and a nonprofit organization on the island of Moloka‘i, according to a news release.

ʻĀina Momona is a Moloka‘i-based native Hawaiian nonprofit organization that was founded in 2017 by Executive Director Walter Ritte and Trisha Kehaulani Watson, both former sanctuary advisory council members.

Ritte said ʻĀina Momona is excited to partner with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary on the stewardship of Moloka‘i’s resources.

“Our reefs and ocean are important sources of food for our island people, who rely heavily on a subsistence economy,” Ritte said. “We can work with NOAA to use traditional knowledge to make sure the resources are managed sustainability.”

‘Āina Momona is based out of Keawanui Fishpond and Cultural Learning Site on the east end of Moloka‘i. The organization manages the 55-acre traditional Hawaiian Keawanui Fishpond. It is one of the most complete Native Hawaiian fishponds on the island, and is entirely within the sanctuary’s boundary.

Several of the outdoor learning spaces at the Keawanaui site will eventually be used by the sanctuary for outreach and other projects on the island of Moloka‘i. The agreement outlines possible future projects including virtual workshops for students, a virtual workshop with native Hawaiian practitioners focused on Native Hawaiian fishpond restoration, and a workshop of Native Hawaiian kūpuna (elders) from around the state to discuss nearshore water quality issues.

“We are looking forward to this new community partnership on Moloka‘i, bringing together students and residents with our sanctuary researchers and educators.” said Allen Tom, Superintendent of Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. “We hope that other communities adjacent to the sanctuary will seek our partnership, and opportunities for engagement.”

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is administered by a partnership of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the State of Hawai‘i through the Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR). The sanctuary works to protect humpback whales through research, education, conservation and stewardship.


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