UH researchers invited to present work on restoration of marine ecosystems at White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation

Researchers' work considered one of the nation's best projects in cooperative conservation

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Aug 29, 2005

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa researchers, Cindy Hunter and Celia Smith, have been invited to present one of three case studies organized by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that will highlight the nation‘s best community-based conservation efforts at the White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation, Aug. 29-31, in St. Louis, Missouri.

The three-day conference will provide a forum for a diverse group of leaders to exchange information and identify innovative and effective approaches to promoting cooperative conservation.

Hunter and Smith were invited to represent the University of Hawaiʻi‘s role in the Hawaiʻi Marine Algae Group (HI MAG) and their ongoing efforts to restore marine ecosystems through building partnerships and developing skills and methods that can be taught to communities for long-term implementation along Hawaii‘s coasts. Partners include state and federal agencies for their grant support, as well as for their on-the-ground participation during alien algae cleanups.

Other long-term partners include the Coastal and Marine Program at The Nature Conservancy - Hawaiʻi, Reef Check, community groups such as not-for-profit corporation Paepae o Heʻeia, which helps restore traditional Hawaiian fishponds, and the Coordinating Group for Alien Species Pests (CGAPS). Equipment and supplies for the alien cleanups are donated by Island Divers Hawaiʻi, Hawaiʻi Earth Products, Matson Shipping, and Starbucks, with new sponsors coming on-board with each clean-up.

Celia Smith, professor of botany, commented, "We are so pleased to be able to represent the accomplishments of a terrific team of people who are working together to make Hawaiʻi's reefs healthier places."

HI MAG has sponsored 16 alien algae cleanups removing more than 90 tons of the alien alga, Gracilaria salicornia, from reefs in Waikīkī - at the Natatorium and the Hilton Hawaiian Village - with the enthusiastic help of more than 1500 volunteers. The first cleanup was held in August 2003. In October 2003, the group was recognized by the federal multi-agency group, Coastal America, with its 2003 Partnership Award. Cleanups are held every six weeks. For more details on the next cleanup, contact Signe Opheim at 956-0722.

The White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation will launch a new conservation dialogue and philosophy for the 21st Century that builds upon the legacy of a much similar convocation of leaders by President Theodore Roosevelt at the start of the last century. For more information, visit www.conservation.ceq.gov.