Pūpūkea Marine Life Conservation District
Waimea – Kalua o Maua – Pūpūkea
In 1983, the State of Hawai‘i designated two of our most popular North Shore beaches — Kalua o Maua (Three Tables) and Sharks Cove — as a marine protected area, called the Pūpūkea Marine Life Conservation District (MLCD). This MLCD – now one of only eleven in the entire state — recognizes the importance of this area as a center for marine recreation and conservation. To aid the MLCD in its purpose of conserving and replenishing marine species, the State expanded the reserve in 2002-03 to cover Waimea Bay, increasing the MCLD to over 100 acres and about a mile of coastline. The North Shore community fought hard for the protection and preservation of the cultural and recreational treasures in this larger area while also striving to strike a balance among the many recreational groups who use this area.
No Mall at Sharks Cove
In August 2004, a group of North Shore residents formed a group called Friends of Sharks Cove in response to a proposed shopping mall complex that would have been built right across from Sharks Cove. The slogan “No Mall at Sharks Cove” became the group’s rally cry. Hundreds of community members united against the developers’ proposal. Spearheading the efforts for enhanced conservation in the area, residents Cora Sanchez, Larry McElheny, and Blake McElheny joined forces to educate the community about inappropriate development and to prevent future impacts to our unique rural North Shore environment. After the proposed mall was withdrawn, the community began planning how to become more proactive in protecting and enhancing Sharks Cove and the marine district. The popular area was showing signs of deterioration and had not been receiving adequate management oversight from the city or state despite having an increasingly large number of visitors and recreational users.
Hui Mālama o Pūpūkea-Waimea
The birth of Mālama Pūpūkea-Waimea dates back to an informal meeting at Sharks Cove Grill on January 14, 2005, when Scott Atkinson, Jason Philibotte, and Mike Guilbeaux of the non-profit Community Conservation Network (CCN) invited a group of North Shore community leaders and State Department of Land & Natural Resources (DLNR) representatives to consider options for community based stewardship of the area’s marine resources.
CCN, which later changed to Hawai‘i Community Stewardship Network (HCSN) under the leadership of Debbie Gowensmith who joined the Pūpūkea effort in April 2005, had broad experience helping coastal communities in Hawai‘i and the Asia-Pacific region with community-based marine conservation and management projects.
Participants at the Sharks Cove Grill meeting included: Blake McElheny (Friends of Shark’s Cove, North Shore Community Land Trust & Pūpūkea resident), Denise Antolini (NSCLT & Pūpūkea resident), Cora Sanchez (Friends of Sharks Cove & Sunset Beach resident), Bob Leinau (NSCLT & Pūpūkea resident), and Kaliko Amona (Kokua Foundation & Pūpūkea resident) and (from DLNR) Athline Clark, Alton Miyaska, and Melissa Bos.
The group discussed the need and opportunities for community stewardship programs and agreed to work together to form a partnership between the community and DLNR. Cora, Denise, and Bob later became the founding advisory board members of Hui Mālama o Pūpūkea-Waimea, a name chosen by a diverse community group including kupuna Butch Helemano to honor the ahupua`a of this area and to emphasize the “ridges to reefs” scope of the group’s stewardship work.
After meetings with interested community members, the group adopted the following vision and mission statement: “Replenish and sustain the natural and cultural resources of both the Pūpūkea and Waimea ahupua‘a for present and future generations through active community stewardship, education, and public and private partnerships.”
Hui Mālama o Pūpūkea-Waimea became the first Makai Watch (eyes on the ocean) program on O‘ahu in partnership with DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources and Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement (DOCARE). In 2006, through CCN/HCSN, the organization hired Butch Helemano as its first “kahu” or program director, initiated its biological and human use monitoring programs, and began weekly outreach tent operations on Saturdays with a dedicated core of community volunteers and a volunteer advisory board.
In 2009, the organization shortened its name to Mālama Pūpūkea-Waimea (MPW) and became a state-recognized non-profit organization. In 2010, after years of generous support through grants and donations from HCSN, through Debbie Gowensmith and others, MPW began hiring its own staff and consultants. In 2011, MPW became a tax-exempt federal 501(c)(3).
Although MPW still has only an office “without walls” (our outreach tent at Sharks Cove) and operates with a small tight budget, the organization is thriving and growing with increased community support, expanded programs, a hearty volunteer network, strong partnerships, and dedicated board and staff. MPW is very grateful for the many donors who have kept the organization afloat (see our “Donors & Supporters” page). In particular, Debbie Gowensmith of HCSN and the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation have been invaluable supporters of MPW for the past several years, for which we are truly grateful.