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Hawaiʻi ocean conservationists join Indigenous groups at marine congress

Kuaaina Ulu Auamo.png
Kua'aina Ulu 'Auamo
KUA staff pose in front of Uncle Mac's farm on Molokaʻi on Feb. 3, 2023.

Some of the world’s leading ocean conservation professionals recently met in Canada to chart a course toward protecting 30% of global oceans by 2030.

More than 50 community-based marine resource management experts, scientists and advocates from Hawaiʻi joined other Indigenous and First Nation people in Vancouver for the fifth annual International Marine Protected Area Congress.

Kevin Chang is the executive director of Kuaʻāina Ulu ʻAuamo, an organization advancing community-based natural resource management across the islands.

Assistant director for Ocean Conservation, Climate and Equity Aulani Wilhelm at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

"Particularly to support I think a growing call for Indigenous and local communities to be able to either fully take the leadership in managing resources — land and in sea — But at this particular conference, it's at sea."

"Or to co-manage or co-steward resources with their respective governments," Chang told HPR.

Chang said this growing interest in local stewardship is receiving support at the national level.

A group of activists created an initiative called "America the Beautiful for All," which calls on the federal government to increase equity and partnerships with Indigenous communities on federal lands and programs.

"Including, not just partnering with communities, but hiring our young people who are wanting to become you know the modern-day Hawaiian resource managers," Chang said.

"And so our work at the national level is actually aligning with a call that's happening globally among Indigenous communities everywhere."

Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Her commitment to her Native Hawaiian community and her fluency in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi has led her to build a de facto ʻōiwi beat at the news station. Send your story ideas to her at khiraishi@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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