The Hawai’i Makai Watch Program is a collaborative, statewide program where citizens and NGOs become directly involved with the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), in the management of marine resources through promoting compliance to rules, education, and monitoring. The Makai Watch approach is based on the idea that people who use, deal with, or live closest to the natural and cultural resources are in the best position to help in understanding the nature of the area. Community members are the ‘eyes and ears’ that look out for their resources, and their direct involvement reduces inappropriate uses of those resources. The concept is not new, but is a modern reflection of the Hawaiian system of ahupua’a (mountain to sea) management practices by the people and led by konohiki (caretakers) and the aha councils (groups of experts). This system recognizes that the people who use a resource ultimately are responsible for its long-term health.
MPW is proud to be the first (and currently only) Makai Watch community on O’ahu.
The program aims to enhance management of the MLCD with the community’s assistance in three areas:
- Awareness-raising and Outreach: Makai Watch engages community members in high priority coastal areas to provide information about marine ecology, regulations, best fishing practices, and other items important to their area. These outreach efforts have helped reduce the misuse of marine resources as resource users have become more aware of both the law and local best practices to conserve marine resources.
- Observation and Compliance: While awareness-raising and outreach helps to reduce illegal activities, poaching is likely to continue in some areas. To reduce the willful disregard for laws and regulations governing marine resource use, local community members are trained in how to observe and identify illegal activities, and they have a direct relationship with DOCARE so they can immediately report violations. They are also trained in how to collect evidence so they can help DOCARE build cases against violators.
- Biological and Human-use Monitoring: To encourage continued community participation, it is important that community members understand the condition of marine resources, how they are being used, and how they change over time. Makai Watch volunteers learn how to collect information on human use of marine resources (fishing, kayaking, collecting, etc.) and on the biological condition of those resources. Over time, they will see the results of their management actions, such as increasing numbers of fish or improving coral health.
While Makai Watch will improve the protection of marine resources, it is not an enforcement program. Makai Watch volunteers do not have enforcement powers. Instead, Makai Watch participants act as “eyes and ears” for DOCARE. Volunteers are trained prior to participation. Training includes:
- Current rules pertaining to the Pūpūkea Marine Life District
- Island-wide regulated species (sizes, seasons, bag limit)
- How to accurately observe and document violations
- How to report information to DOCARE
- Community outreach and education
- Ahupua’a system/traditional resource management
Makai Watch is not a substitute for the government roles in educating the public about marine resources and in enforcing resource regulations. Government will continue to play these roles; however, Makai Watch will help government to enhance their efficacy.
Makai Watch is a means for concerned citizens to play a role in ensuring proper management of marine resources. Through the combination of encouraging compliance and providing information to enforcement officers, Makai Watch will reduce inappropriate uses of marine resources, thus helping Hawai‘i’s near-shore marine ecosystem to recover.
If you would like to become a MPW Makai Watch volunteer, please contact us.
We offer free community Makai Watch trainings throughout the year. We’ll keep everyone posted about the next one!
June 2016 flier: