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Magazine spread featuring a large sail boat out on the water, and marine debris littering a beach

Sea Education Association: Studying Microplastics Aboard a Tall Ship

by Mallory HoffbeckUndergraduate student Noah van Aardenne stands lookout on the bow of the tall ship SSV Robert C. Seamans, holding on to the forestay as the ship tosses. He watches the horizon for rain clouds, marine animals, or rare glimpses of other ships in a sparsely populated expanse of the Central Pacific Basin. On this six-week passage from Honolulu to Fiji via the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument around Howland and Baker Islands, there is another elusive and mostly invisible aspect of the sea he is looking for: signs of plastic debris. Though plastic pollution is present in
Magazine spread featuring protestors holding signs on a lawn

Act Local, Act Global

by Lurline Wailana McGregorWhen the last of its four counties implemented laws to ban plastic bags from store checkouts in 2021, Hawaiʻi became the first in the nation with a full statewide ban. Since then, the City and County of Honolulu and Maui County have expanded their bans to include all takeout plastic and Styrofoam foodware, mandating two of the strongest plastic laws nationwide. While this is a significant effort in reducing the land-based plastic waste that often ends up on shorelines and in the ocean, it doesn’t address the estimated 15-20 tons of marine debris—mostly plastics—that piles up on
Magazine spread about the possible afterlife of marine debris, contains image of old fishing net, new yarn it has been spun into, and sneakers made from the recycled net

Supply, Demand, and our Sea of Debris

by MARIA FROSTICWith the ocean on track to teem with more plastic than fish by the year 2050, marine debris is making waves in local and global economies. Damage from marine litter on the global marine economy was estimated at $21.3 billion in 2020 and has increased eightfold in the Asia-Pacific region since 2008. The economic setbacks of this unprecedented challenge are accompanied by some surprising solutions. In Hawaiʻi and around the globe, a sea of new (and sometimes unlikely!) ocean stewards are taking creative measures to reverse harmful habits, bridge divides, form alliances, and leverage economic incentives to secure
Magazine spread featuring old fishing nets and a group of volunteers

Paving the Road, from Cleanup to Repurposing

by Mark MarchandThere’s an “all hands on deck” effort underway to understand and counter the growing issue of derelict fishing nets and other plastic debris washing up on Hawaiʻi’s shores and reefs, and in its harbors. Organizations and individuals—environmentally conscious volunteers, non-profit organizations, academic researchers, government entities, and businesses—have been separately or together removing tangled masses of nets before they negatively impact wildlife, coral reefs, and beaches. Researchers are also delving deep into what happens when wildlife—especially seabirds, turtles, and many other animals— ingest plastic. The next logical step, most agree, is a more formal collaborative process built on systematic
Magazine spread featuring two headshot images of the interviewees, and some marine debris

Getting to the Bottom of U.S. Ocean Plastic Pollution: a Conversation with Leading Experts

by Tess JoosseThe United States uses and discards the most plastic in the world, churning out a whopping 42 million metric tons each year. Despite this distinction, as recently as 2020 the full scale of the U.S.’s contribution to ocean plastic pollution had never been comprehensively studied. In response, the U.S. Congress directed the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to convene a groundbreaking committee of scientists, policy experts, economists, and other specialists to assess the magnitude of the problem. After an 18-month study, the committee published the first comprehensive report “Reckoning with the U.S. Role in Global Ocean
Magazine spread featuring the crystal blue coastline, fish, birds and a seal of Papahanaumokuakea

Preserving a Precious Place

by Libby LeonardThe Kumulipo, the Hawaiian creation chant, describes the area of Papahānaumokuākea as the realm of Pō, where life springs from a single coral polyp, and where spirits return upon death. Papahānaumokuākea got its name in 2007 from two esteemed kūpuna, Uncle Buzzy Agard and Aunty Pua Kanahele, a year after the marine national monument was established by Presidential Proclamation in order to elevate protections for its biodiversity and rich cultural significance. The name was meant to honor the genealogy and formation of the islands by invoking their ancestral sky mother, Papahānaumoku, and sky father, Wākea, who gave birth
Cover of the Salt Pond Hydrogeologic Investigation report

Salt Pond Hydrogeologic Investigation Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i

The Hawaiian cultural practice of making salt is one of Hawai‘i’s oldest traditions and Hanapēpē Salt Pond is one of the last places in all of Hawaiʻi that continues this tradition. The area and practice is highly treasured and protected by the salt makers as well as the larger community. Over the years this cultural practice has been threatened by increased marine and rainfall flooding (as well as user conflicts and nonpoint pollution) during the summer months, when ideal salt-making conditions require the Pond to be hot and dry. Throughout 2018-2022 a team of specialists, researchers, and practitioners were assembled
Cover of the Hawaii Sea Grant Biennial Report.

Hawaii Sea Grant Biennial Report 2020-2021

The University of Hawaiʻi Sea Grant College Program (Hawaiʻi Sea Grant) is organized into Centers of Excellence, a unique structure within the 34 university-based Sea Grant programs across the network. This allows the work of our faculty and staff to engage across our universities to bring multi-, inter-, and transdisciplinary approaches and solutions in service to communities throughout the region. The cover images depict the passion, commitment, and diversity of people and projects that are genuinely representative of Hawaiʻi Sea Grant and our expansive focus areas. Our program’s service is truly region-wide, with responsibilities spanning a geographic area greater than
Cover of report including an image of Waikiki beach from the ocean.

Economic Valuation of changes in Waikīkī Beach characteristics

Executive Summary Waikīkī Beach accounted for some $7.8 billion in visitor expenditures in 2019, representing 38% of total visitor expenditures statewide. Though the economic value of Waikīkī Beach is considered to be substantial, few studies have estimated the value in a comprehensive manner. Non-market valuation studies of natural resources are sorely lacking in Hawai‘i, the last major beach valuation on Oʻahu dates back to 1975 (Moncur, 1975). Based on an in-person survey in Waikīkī Beach conducted in November 2019-January 2020 with 398 respondents, we estimate beach user’s willingness to pay (WTP) for changes in beach width and water clarity as
Adding Value to Island Waste

Adding Value to Island Waste

by Stacy KishDespite the best efforts to contain it, untreated waste from the 88,000 cesspools in Hawai‘i escapes the confines of the system, polluting coastlines and endangering marine life and coral ecosystems. When treated properly, much of the wastewater is released to the ocean rather than reused in the drier regions of the islands. This challenge opens the door to an opportunity. A small band of scientists, politicians, and citizens are heralding the benefits of new technologies that could eliminate the poop in creative and unique ways while adding value to the islands. According to Stuart Coleman, the grand vision
Restoring Water Quality and Bringing Back Coral Reef Ecosystems: Lessons from Kāneʻohe Bay

Restoring Water Quality and Bringing Back Coral Reef Ecosystems: Lessons from Kāneʻohe Bay

by Abbey SeitzOver the past century, wastewater, stormwater, and other pollutants from land and development have damaged our islands’ coastal ecosystems and nearshore waters. This degradation is due in part to the islands’ increasing urbanization coinciding with global warming. Given these immense challenges, many wonder, is there any hope of restoring these coastal areas? The recovery of Kāneʻohe Bay — from its sewage saturated waters and scum-covered reefs in the 1970’s to its now beautiful high coral cover condition — offers lessons in effective wastewater management and watershed remediation for coastal communities across the Pacific. To understand the revival of
Sewage in the seas

Sewage in the seas

by Natasha VizcarraIt’s easy to get lost in the weeds finding out how to empty that portable 5-gallon toilet at the back of the boat. A simple Google search turns up a messy list of how-to videos, along with state and federal agency guidelines. However, Ed Underwood, chief of the Hawaiʻi Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR), simplifies it this way: “Either you go out three miles to dump untreated sewage, or pump it into a holding facility.” It’s a rule that’s true for all states with coastal areas. That leaves the boater and his portable toilet three options.
How Clean is Clean?

How Clean is Clean?

by Lurline Wailana McGregorBefore the Clean Water Act of 1972 became law, most of the agricultural wastewater and sewage from the Kaʻanapali coast on Maui, Hawai‘i was treated to remove only solids before being piped out into the ocean. After the wastewater started being injected into wells to comply with the new law, nearby residents started noticing algal blooms and destruction of the coral reefs in the waters along the once-healthy shoreline. That was the beginning of what would become decades of research by coral biologists, limu (seaweed) experts, and scientists who studied the exchange of groundwater between land and
Transforming the Ala Wai

Transforming the Ala Wai

by Josh McDanielFew of the millions of tourists who flock to the sparkling beaches of Waikīkī are aware that the area was once a vast estuary fed by three streams, Makiki, Mānoa, and Pālolo, which plunged from the steep slopes of the Ko‘olau Range down to the coast. The coastal marshes, loʻi kalo (flooded taro fields), and loko iʻa (fishponds) of Waikīkī sustained Native Hawaiians and later Chinese rice and duck farmers for centuries. The territorial government dug the Ala Wai Canal in Waikīkī during the 1920s to drain the wetlands. Construction of the canal allowed the development of Waikīkī
Making #2 a #1 Priority

Making #2 a #1 Priority

by Kate FurbyStuart Coleman loves potty humor. But unlike the rest of us, he has a work excuse. And while not all of his puns are suitable for print journalism, suffice it to say that he approaches his work on sewage, wastewater, and cesspools with a lighthearted spirit. He has said a good poo pun helps keep him sane in this line of work. “It still makes me laugh that I’m dealing with wastewater. Sometimes I feel embarrassed about it. But it’s the thing that unites all humans and that we all have in common,” said Coleman. Learning to talk
Tackling Cesspool Conversion from Long Island to the Hawaiian Islands

Tackling Cesspool Conversion from Long Island to the Hawaiian Islands

by Shannon KelleherAs Hawai‘i prepares to carry out a massive overhaul of its numerous cesspools by 2050, the state finds itself in a quandary — waste treatment is expensive, and homeowners’ pockets only run so deep. “This is one of the biggest burdens the state is facing because it’s a $2 – 4 billion problem,” said Stuart Coleman, executive director and co-founder of Wastewater Alternatives and Innovations (WAI) and a member of the Hawaiʻi Department of Health’s Cesspool Conversion Working Group. Fortunately, this daunting task is one that communities across the U.S. have tackled before. Suffolk County, N.Y., which encompasses
lead spread for article that includes a hand drwn illustration of a residental nearshore cesspool process

Wanted: Wastewater Wins

by Robin Donovan“It’s not a million-dollar question; it’s a billion-dollar question,” says Sina Pruder of Hawaiʻi’s cesspool conversion challenge. As an engineering program manager for the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Health’s (DOH) wastewater branch, Pruder has faced a daunting task since 2018: making recommendations to Hawaiʻi state legislators about how to tackle the mammoth effort of converting cesspools to more environment- and health-friendly alternatives like septic tanks and aerobic treatment systems. She’s part of the Hawaiʻi Cesspool Conversion Working Group. Cesspools are holes in the ground used to discharge untreated wastewater and sewage, which then travels through groundwater systems
Home Aquaponics – Your Next Passion?

Home Aquaponics – Your Next Passion?

by Liz ColeyIn 2011, author, educator, entrepreneur Sylvia Bernstein wrote AQUAPONIC GARDENING: A Step by Step Guide to Raising Vegetables and Fish Together to share her passion with the uninitiated. The book offers an engaging and practical deep dive into all the components of developing a working ecosystem of fish, plants, worms, bacteria, water, rocks, and air. This 250-page DIY is a quick read, offering the aquaponics-curious novice a springboard for deciding whether they are now enthusiastic, intrigued, or too daunted to take the plunge. Aquaponics practitioners, whether home growers or commercial farmers, have clearly found not only a hobby
Article 'Farming on a Loop' by Jake Buehler

Farming on a Loop

by Jake BuehlerIn Hawaiʻi and the Pacific, physical space for agriculture is substantially more limited than on continental landmasses. This has made farming practices that combine efficiency with a low impact on land and water use especially useful for producing food in the Pacific region. Now, one food production system is increasingly recognized here, and across the world, for its capacity to reduce waste and cost while still producing high yields: aquaponics. Aquaponics is farming on a loop. Fundamentally, the process is a merger of aquaculture—where fish or shellfish are raised in tanks or ponds—and hydroponics, where plants are grown
Article titled 'Reviving Cultural Practices and Restoring Self: Rosalyn Concepcion' by Stacy Kish

Reviving Cultural Practices and Restoring Self: Rosalyn Concepcion

by Stacy KishThe 400-year old stone walls of Waikalua Loko Iʻa, a Hawaiian fishpond in Kāneʻohe, Oʻahu, retain a history that has almost been lost to disrepair during the past century. Rosalyn (Roz) Concepcion has been working to restore the fishpond and bring its gifts of food sovereignty, cultural restoration, and environmental healing back to the community. “When I stepped in, I wanted to understand the historical practices of the fishpond,” said Concepcion, the kiaʻi loko iʻa, alaka`i, or fishpond manager. “By bringing back old practices, we are bringing life back into the pond.” Concepcion’s role as the kiaʻi loko
Graphic for article 'Farming the Open Ocean - is offshore Aquaculture in Hawaii the Future of Seafood?' by Josh McDaniel

Farming the Open Ocean—Is Offshore Aquaculture in Hawaiʻi the Future of Seafood?

by Josh McDanielOn the island of Hawai‘i, about a half mile off Keāhole Point near Kona, nine large net pens teem with hundreds of thousands of kanpachi (Seriola rivoliana, or longfin amberjack). Blue Ocean Mariculture’s kanpachi fish farm is the only commercial open-ocean aquaculture operation in the United States, and it may be a model for an industry that many believe is primed for growth. “We have the expertise, the technology, and the entrepreneurs who are ready,” says Kat Montgomery, the seafood, aquaculture, and ocean policy director for ESP Advisors in Washington D.C. “In the next 10 years, I believe
Propagating resilience

Propagating resilience

by Natasha VizcarraIt was a warm, cloudy Saturday at Maunalua Bay Beach Park. Under a blue tent, masked volunteers at the Mālama Maunalua Hana Pūko‘a​ event bent over water saws to gingerly cut coral into large thumb-sized pieces. Under a green tent, more volunteers stood around waist-high tanks and glued coral fragments—branch side upwards—to aragonite plugs. These were not ordinary bits of coral. Stress tests at the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology’s (HIMB) Coral Resilience Lab, which continues the legacy of renowned scientist Dr. Ruth Gates, showed they were more heat resistant with a better chance at surviving current and
Sharing the Catch article by Robin Donovan. Features images of fish caught in a basket, along with a fisherman throwing a net

Sharing the Catch

by Robin DonovanIf you read the news, it’s everywhere: rising sea levels, warming oceans, degraded coastlines, and dying coral reefs. The consequences of climate change are apparent around the globe, but for fish-loving island communities like those in American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Marianas, the urgency of balancing sustainable practices with growing demand for fish, both for subsistence and for profit, is leading to creative partnerships that blend knowledge gained from western research and local fishing practices. Guam Guam has felt fish shortages more acutely than some of its neighbors due to its larger population size and smaller reef
Graphic depicting Hawaiian Fishponds for article 'Can Hawaiian Fishpond Technology Increase Food Security?' by Lurline Wailana McGregor

Can Hawaiian Fishpond Technology Increase Food Security?

by Lurline Wailana McGregor“Wehe i ka mākāhā i komo ka iʻa,” open the fish gate that the fish may enter, is an ʻōlelo noʻeau (Hawaiian proverb) referencing a strategy used to trap fish in the loko iʻa, as well as a trap for invading warriors. For over one thousand years, all it took to attract pua (juvenile fish) into the approximately 488 fishponds that Native Hawaiians built along the shores of the islands, was to open the gate, due to its innovative construction. These loko iʻa were abundant with many species of fish, including the revered ʻamaʻama (striped mullet) that
Article 'Raising the next generation of aquatic farmers' by Shannon Wianecki

Raising the Next Generation of Aquatic Farmers

by Shannon WianeckiThe term “aquaculture” encompasses everything from restoring traditional fishponds to rearing seahorses for aquariums and reducing greenhouse gases with red algae. It’s a diverse field, and it’s booming: it’s the fastest growing sector of the agricultural industry worldwide, by a large margin. In Hawai‘i, the economic value of aquaculture doubled over the past decade, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service. It now ranks fifth among the state’s agricultural products, below macadamia nuts and coffee, but above cattle ranching. In 2019, aquaculture companies in Hawai‘i reported $83.2 million in sales and 369 workers on

The Limu Eater – A Cookbook of Hawaiian Seaweed

Vintage Reprint Available in October 2022 This reprint of The Limu Eater is the product of a partnership between Kuaʻāina Ulu ʻAuamo (KUA) and the University of Hawaiʻi Sea Grant College Program (Hawai‘i Sea Grant), who worked collaboratively to support the conceptualization, design, and actualization of the reprint. Support for printing was provided by the Center for Oral History at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority, and Hawai‘i Sea Grant. Partnering Organizations Kuaʻāina Ulu ʻAuamo (KUA) means “grassroots growing through shared responsibility.” KUA is a movement-building non-profit organization that works to empower communities across Hawaiʻi to

The Three ‘Io Brothers and The Rising Tide

by Keri Kodama On a bright summer day on the Island of Hawai‘i, the three ‘Io brothers packed their bags and got ready to leave for a well-earned vacation. They were on their way to visit their old friend ‘Apapane who lived by the ocean in Kapoho, and they were all very excited for it had been many years since they could visit. “I can’t wait to go swimming!” said the first ‘Io brother, the most playful of the three. “I hope the waves are good,” said the second ‘Io brother, who was the coolest. “I remember there were many

ʻAha ʻIke Pāpālua – 2020 Report

In January 2020, we came together in a visioning ʻAha - to assemble around the questions of who, what, and why our Sea Grant Center of Excellence should focus its time, energy, and efforts. In this period of change, the Center made significant progress building out existing projects and as we have grown and assumed new kuleana, we felt it appropriate that our new name, Ulana ʻIke, reflect our evolving roles and function. The  ʻAha ʻIke Pāpālua Report reflects our collective aspirations directed by community partner manaʻo and advice. The report includes: An explanation of the intentionality and meaning behind
Cover of the 2022 Hawaii Dune Restoration Manual

Hawaiʻi Dune Restoration Manual

The Hawaiʻi Dune Restoration Manual was written and created by the University of Hawaiʻi Sea Grant College Program (Hawaiʻi Sea Grant). Hawaiʻi Sea Grant supports and conducts innovative research, education, and extension services toward the improved understanding and stewardship of coastal and marine resources nationwide. The Hawaiʻi Dune Restoration Manual is written in response to increasing awareness of the importance of preserving, restoring, and maintaining coastal dunes. There are clear ongoing impacts associated with climate change, including sea-level rise, coastal flooding, and more frequent and severe storm events, all causing beach and dune erosion. However, there are also direct human

University of Hawaiʻi Sea Grant College Program Biennial Report (2018-2019)

The University of Hawaiʻi Sea Grant College Program (Hawaiʻi Sea Grant) is organized into Centers of Excellence, a unique structure within the 34 university-based Sea Grant programs across the network. This allows the work of our faculty and staff to engage across our universities to bring multi-, inter-, and transdisciplinary approaches and solutions in service to communities throughout the region. The cover images depict the passion, commitment, and diversity of people and projects that are genuinely representative of Hawaiʻi Sea Grant and our expansive focus areas. Our program’s service is truly region-wide, with responsibilities spanning a geographic area greater than

Hawaiʻi Sea Grant Resources