HONOLULU, Hawaii – Governor David Ige pledged to effectively manage 30% of Hawaii’s nearshore ocean waters by 2030. His announcement came as he spoke during the opening ceremony of the World Conservation Congress in Honolulu on Thursday.
“Our reefs provide habitat for spectacular marine life, and feed us,” Governor Ige said. “That’s why I’m committed to effectively managing 30% of our nearshore ocean waters by 2030.”
The “Hawaii’s 30 by 30 Oceans Target” is further detailed in this 2-page file produced by the state:
Hawai‘i’s coral reefs are a local and national treasure, providing cultural, economic, and recreational opportunities to our residents and more than eight million visitors annually. They are a driver of our local and tourism economy, generating more than $360 million each year.
Recent worldwide bleaching events are a stark reminder of the devastating effects of rising sea surface temperatures on coral reefs around the world. Hawai‘i experienced its first statewide mass-bleaching event in 2015. Given continuing rising greenhouse gas levels and sea surface temperatures around the globe, scientists predict additional bleaching in 2016 and beyond.
A strong base of scientific evidence suggests that the health and function of at least 30% of nearshore reef areas are necessary to sustain the productivity of a reef region like the Main Hawaiian Islands. To improve the resilience of corals and ensure they continue to provide benefits to Hawai‘i’s people and economy, we need to effectively manage the local stressors that are within our control, including sediment and nutrient runoff from land, invasive species, and illegal and unsustainable fishing. To meet this challenge, we are committed to effectively manage 30% of Hawai‘i’s nearshore waters by 2030, complementing the State’s current commitment to protect 30% of our priority watersheds and other lands.
- “Effective management” includes a suite of adaptive management approaches balancing sustainable use, restoration, and conservation measures such as community-based management, time and area closures for fisheries replenishment, reasonable laws to encourage sustainable fishing practices, and effective enforcement, combined with systematized monitoring to assess effectiveness. This is not an effort to make 30% “no take.”
This serves as a significant culminating event for the Pacific Voyaging Society’s Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, and our collective commitment to ensure our islands are better when Hōkūleʻa returns than when she left in 2014. 30 by 30 provides an overarching target that pulls together the State’s current aims to improve the capacity and coverage of enforcement, support community-based marine management, develop a plan to address coral bleaching, and strengthen statewide regulations, monitoring, and other adaptive management measures. This effort will be an open, inclusive process balancing fisher and other ocean user interests with the State’s restoration and conservation needs. Effective management will be measured by a broadly agreed-upon set of biological parameters for “healthy” reef systems developed by scientific expertise, traditional knowledge, and user input. This collaborative effort is currently underway. Effectively managed areas will also include those areas that are already healthy, not just those that are formally designated. This new measure and target of 30 by 30 will be interwoven into the existing Aloha+ Challenge measures process and if approved by the Challenge signatories, will be published on the dashboard where it will be tracked and measured.
In these increasingly uncertain times, a healthy and resilient economy will depend wholly on a healthy and resilient environment. By committing to effectively manage 30% of Hawai’i’s waters, we are joining the Pacific community and doing our part to ensure we all have sustainable reefs and fisheries to support our people and economy into the future.
Following the announcment at the IUCN Congress, the Nature Conservancy’s Executive Director Ulalia Woodside praised the Governor, saying, “The people of Hawai‘i managed our reefs and nearshore fisheries for generations to ensure they could sustain a healthy and thriving population in our remote island home. The Nature Conservancy applauds Governor Ige’s commitment to continuing this legacy by effectively managing 30% of State waters by 2030. His recent support of community-based marine management in partnership with the communities of Hāʻena on Kauaʻi and Kaʻūpūlehu in West Hawai‘i is a testament to his commitment to ensuring our oceans remain healthy and abundant for generations to come.”
“Recent mass coral bleaching across the state highlights the need to act now to manage the threats we can, including sediment, invasive species, and unsustainable fishing,” said Kim Hum, The Nature Conservancy’s Hawai‘i Marine Program Director. “The Nature Conservancy commends the State’s efforts and looks forward to working with all interested partners to ensure our nearshore reefs and local fisheries are healthy and managed sustainably so that they can continue to sustain our communities.”