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OHA: Office of Hawaiian Affairs
E ʻĀkoakoa Mai: The Coral Polyp that becomes the coral head that creates the papa (reef)

Developing OHA’s Ocean Policy

We gather like the little coral polyps to make the papa, the reef. Ocean resiliency comes from our learning, growing, exchanging and by perpetuating our traditional ocean legacy.

Please join the Office of Hawaiian Affairs as we embark on a series of meetings across the pae ‘āina to help realize our goal:

To create innovative, effective ocean policies that reflect Hawaiian and Oceanic cultural values and traditions that meet or exceed global standards of practice.

Together we hope to uncover opportunities, the collective strengths and challenges, to enhance, develop and inform OHA’s Ocean Policy and advocacy, that supports sustainable, intergenerational protection and management of our ocean ecosystems and resources by incorporating ‘ike of kānaka ‘ōiwi (knowledge of Hawaiians) and those already working to steward marine ecosystems and our ocean realms.


In October and November 2022, several hundred kānaka dedicated their time to attend one of our nine in-person Ocean Policy development meetings hosted throughout the pae ‘āina, as well as an online Zoom meeting. Mahalo nui to everyone who shared manaʻo!  There is one more opportunity to share your experiences and manaʻo to help inform the OHA Ocean Policy. A web survey is now live where you can provide input to the questions discussed in our meetings. Please complete the survey by 4 p.m. on Dec. 9, 2022.

Ocean survey button

Meeting Calendar

 DINNER WILL BE PROVIDED AT EACH IN-PERSON MEETING. PLEASE RSVP TO RESERVE YOUR DINNER. 

invitation button inperson button online button
OHA Ocean Policy Vision:
Native Hawaiians are global leaders in natural/cultural (marine) resource management, stewards of the ecosystem in which they live, and custodians of traditional knowledge and practices for the protection of the marine environment, conservation and sustainable uses of the ocean and its resources.

OHA Ocean Policy Mission:
To create innovative, effective ocean policies that reflect Hawaiian and Oceanic cultural values and traditions that can be supported by OHA Policy to meet or exceed global standards of best practice.

OHA Ocean Policy Purpose: 

Create a safe space for Native Hawaiian communities to collaborate with OHA to advocate for their rights in Hawaiʻi’s marine resources; synthesize outputs of these initial discovery meetings to support OHA in its advocacy activities and sphere of influence.

OHA Ocean Policy Goals:

  1. Develop pilina between OHA and communities across the Pae ʻĀina to design a community informed ocean policy that reaffirms the inherent relationship between kānaka (Hawaiians) and ʻāina/kai (land/ocean);

  2. Uncover opportunities, the collective strengths and challenges, to enhance development and use of ocean policy that supports sustainable, intergenerational management of ocean resources by listening to the ʻike (knowledge) of kānaka ʻōiwi (Hawaiians) already working to steward marine ecosystems;

  3. Open the door to new ideas; support Native Hawaiian people and communities to   voice their lived experiences, concerns and desires regarding our ocean-based rights and resources. Provide examples and opportunities to reimagine what is possible through the appropriate (or innovate) use of ocean policy.


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) was created in 1978 at the State of Hawaiʻi Constitutional Convention to address historical injustices and challenges facing the Native Hawaiian community.  The convention delegates envisioned, an agency that provided a form of self-determination for Native Hawaiians[1] and advocated for their overall well-being.  Thus, OHA was established through Article XII of the Hawaiʻi State Constitution[2], and Chapter 10 of the Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes (HRS) outlines OHA’s duties and purposes to: better the conditions of Native Hawaiians; serve as the principal public agency responsible for the performance, development, and coordination of programs and activities for Native Hawaiians; assess the policies and practices of other agencies; and conduct advocacy efforts, including the promotion and protection of the rights of Native Hawaiians.

Governed by an elected nine-member Board of Trustees (BOT), OHA exercises power as provided by law to manage and administer the proceeds from the sale or other dispositions of lands[3], natural resources, minerals, and income derived from whatever sources for Native Hawaiians, including all income and proceeds from the pro rata portions of the trust referred to in section 4 of Article XII.[4]  OHA, therefore, is mandated to ensure activities that occur on the land including submerged lands across the Pae ‘Āina[5] that may affect the rights and or resources for which Native Hawaiians have an interest, at the county, state, federal and or international levels are upheld and protected. OHA supports beneficiaries and Lāhui efforts through its policy and advocacy at the county, state, federal and or international levels and further through loans, grants, and partnerships.

The United Nations Decade of the Ocean

Last year the United Nations (UN) proclaimed 2021-2030 the Decade of the Ocean Science and Sustainable Development, to support efforts to reverse the cycle of decline in ocean health. The UN General Assembly tasked the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and its subdivisions to organize and gather the global ocean community to plan for the next ten years. The States of the Republic of Palau and Republic of Seychelles have become alliance partners. OHA believes this is an opportunity for our Lāhui to participate in these global conversations for greater protection of our whole Ocean. The vision of the Ocean Decade is the science and Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge (ITEK) we need for the ocean we want.

Read more at http://en.unesco.org

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

We as Native Hawaiians and Kānaka Maoli have the right to be consulted and to provide our Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) for activities that happen and may impact our rights and resources on our land and in our ocean realms. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) includes Native Hawaiian and is the most comprehensive international instrument regarding the protection for the human and civil rights of all Indigenous Peoples (IPs). Together with other human rights instruments and growing human rights jurisprudence concerning indigenous peoples, the Declaration establishes a universal framework of minimum standards for engaging and consulting IPs and protecting and promoting their peoples’ rights.

Learn more at https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/wp-content/uploads/sites/19/2018/11/UNDRIP_E_web.pdf

WE GATHER LIKE THE LITTLE CORAL POLYP, THAT BECORMS THE CORAL HEAD THAT THEN BECOMES THE REEF—A FOUNDATION!

reef scape

Hanau ka ‘Ukukoʻakoʻa

Hanau kana he ‘Akoʻakoʻa, puka[6]

From the first WA (epoch) of the Kumulipo (chant of Creation) and emerging from the primordial Po (darkness and or the potential of things yet created) is born the uku and then the coral polyp.

MOANA-NUI-ĀKEA

Our Traditional Ocean Realm is expansive connecting to our whole Pacific Family.

According to Christina Thompson in her book “Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia” …if you were to look at the Pacific Ocean from space…you would not be able to see both sides of it at the same time…taken as a whole, it is so big that you could fit all of the landmass of earth inside it and there would still be room for another continent as large as North and South America combined. It is not simply the largest body of water on the planet—it is the largest single feature” at p. 17

The west often refers to the Pacific Islands, as the tiny island nations, but we are better defined as the big ocean nations of the Pacific Ocean or Moananuiākea.

The Moana connects us to our Pacific Indigenous Brothers and Sisters, cosmologically, genealogically and via a vast network of very ancient seaways and pathways.

The Moananuiākea connects us not only to our Pacific Ocean ‘Ohana but to all of Humanity!

Our Moana produces 70% of the atmosphere and air we breathe.

The colonial countries attempted the carve up the Pacific Ocean and mold it into their own image…but we the people of the Pacific are not divided, and we have survived, and are continuing to work to restore ‘Āina Momona!

The world is pausing to rethink these old paradigms and antiquated ways of living and treating the Indigenous Peoples of this world, and many are striving to live better and to do better to… mālama and care for our planet.

LARGE SCALE INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL EXTRACTION

Despite the good progress and basic good will being generated on many levels here at home and even across the world, we are still facing some serious challenges that continue to frustrate our ability to preserve, protect, conserve, and ultimately restore ‘Āina Momona or the Abundance of our Pae ‘Āina. Some of these forms of extractions are happening from our near shore, within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and into the High Seas. We all need to all be aware these activities because many are happening now and or planned to start happening very soon.

The large-scale industrial ocean extraction activities happening in or around Hawaiʻi, include the following:

THE AQUARIUM TRADE

YELLOW FISH

Many are unaware that Hawaiʻi is the largest “supplier” of reef fish for the aquarium pet trade in the U.S., and third largest globally, only behind Indonesia and the Philippines. About 99 percent of our reef wildlife taken by the millions from Hawaiʻi’s reefs are shipped to the U.S. and internationally for the PET TRADE INDUSTRY. This destructive trade removes wildlife that is culturally and ecologically critical to the Pae ‘Āina, negatively impacting the health of our reefs, and the ability for the kānaka maoli [7] to engage in traditional practices and to feed their families.

Read more about what people are doing about it at https://kapuaq.org/

 

OVERFISHING/BY-CATCH/INDUSTRIAL EXTRACTION

Image https://marinebiology.co/2015/05/02/bycatch-the-physiological-response-of-unintentionally-caught-elasmobranchs/

Industrial commercial fishing is occurring in and around our island’s waters, this kind of large-scale industrial extractive fishing, especially if not regulated can impact Indigenous Native Hawaiian traditional and customary cultural and religious fishing and gathering rights and practices. Such large-scale extractions are impacting our overall ocean ecosystem and ocean realm by reducing our fish stocks overall. This can negatively impact Native Hawaiian and local small-scale fishers. Bycatch[8] produced by the larger-scale industrial fishing extraction methods challenges our ability as practitioners and ocean kiaʻi (protectors/guardians) to protect and restore ‘Āina Momona (abundance) of Hawaiʻi.

Read more about Overfishing/By-Catch/Industrial Extraction

BYCATCH

https://www.hepper.com/overfishing-statistics-facts/

And see also the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (ICUN)[9], regarding that status of various marine species.

OVERFISHING INFOGRAPHIC

DEEP SEA MINING A LOOMING THREAT


“Seventeen contractors are exploring the possibility of mining in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ), an area spanning 4.5 million square kilometers (1.7 million square miles) between Hawaiʻi and Mexico and a prime focus of deep-sea mining interest. If each of the contractors were to launch just one mine, an estimated 5.5 million square kilometers (2.1 million square miles)—an area larger than the European Union—would have elevated noise levels. Not only could this level of mining activity have untold impacts on noise-sensitive species, it could also undermine attempts to preserve areas with no mining impact—known as “preservation reference areas”—to use for scientific comparisons.”

See more at https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2022/07/08/deep-sea-mining-noise-pollution/ and at

https://www.iucn.org/resources/issues-brief/deep-sea-mining

Read more about what Pacific Peoples are doing about it:

See Pacific Blue Line at http://www.pacificblueline.org


[1] We use various terms for which the Indigenous Hawaiian Peoples may choose to identify themselves, including, Kanaka Maoli, Kanaka Oiwi, Native Hawaiian etc. as all Indigenous Peoples have a right to self-identify.

[2] According to Oxford Languages the term “By-Catch” is defined as the unwanted fish or other marine creatures caught during commercial fishing for a different species. (i.e. they had been netted as by-catch but had to be thrown back into the sea dead.” By-catch in Hawai’i and Pacific include, Sea Birds, Sharks, Turtles, Marine Mammals, including Dolphins, Seals and Smalls Whales.

[3] The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (ICUN) is the global authority on the status of the natural world and recommends measures to protect nature. The ICUN Red List of Threatened Species is the worlds most comprehensive inventory of the global status of plant and animal species.

[4] Hawai’i State Constitution, Article XII, Section 4, PUBLIC TRUST:  The lands granted to the State of Hawaiʻi by Section 5(b) of the Admissions Act and pursuant to Article XVI, Section 7, of the State Constitution, shall be held by the State as a public trust for native Hawaiians and the general public.  Further, Article XII Section 7, of the State Constitution provides that, “the State reaffirms and shall protect all rights, customarily and traditionally exercised for subsistence cultural and religious purposes and possessed by ahupua’a tenants who are descendants of native Hawaiians who inhabited the Hawaiian Islands prior to 1778, subject to the right of the state to regulate such rights.”

[5] The terms of statehood considered the plight of the Hawaiian people, specifically in the Admission Act of 1959. Section 5(f) of the Act refers to the crown and government lands of the Hawaiian Kingdom, which had been designated “ceded” to the Republic of Hawai‘i, and then to the United States. The Act conveyed these lands to the new State of Hawai‘i with the caveat that revenues were to constitute a trust for five purposes. One of these was the betterment of the conditions of Native Hawaiians.

[6] The Kumulipo Mind: A Global Heritage, In the Polynesian Creation Myth (2000) by Rubelite Kawena Kinney Johnson

[7] We use various terms for which the Indigenous Hawaiian Peoples may choose to identify themselves, including, Kanaka Maoli, Kanaka Oiwi, Native Hawaiian etc. as all Indigenous Peoples have a right to self-identify.

[8] According to Oxford Languages the term “By-Catch” is defined as the unwanted fish or other marine creatures caught during commercial fishing for a different species. (i.e. they had been netted as by-catch but had to be thrown back into the sea dead.” By-catch in Hawai’i and Pacific include, Sea Birds, Sharks, Turtles, Marine Mammals, including Dolphins, Seals and Smalls Whales.

[9] The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (ICUN) is the global authority on the status of the natural world and recommends measures to protect nature. The ICUN Red List of Threatened Species is the worlds most comprehensive inventory of the global status of plant and animal species.

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