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NOAA 04 - R468
August 18, 2004

Sarah Marquis/NOAA
(949) 300-1322 August 18, 2004
Patty Miller, HIHWNMS
(808) 879-2818


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials joined Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa, and navigator Nainoa Thompson at a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday to announce plans for a new sanctuary community education and learning center at the NOAA Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary office in Kihei. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“The new building on the Kihei site is an investment in the community,” said Tim Keeney, deputy assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere. “The community center will support sanctuary education programs and provide much needed public meeting space.”

“At this beautiful site in Kihei, this new building will serve as a gathering place for scientists, educators, community members, school children and visitors, who can come here to learn and exchange ideas,” said Senator Daniel K. Inouye.

The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary’s Kihei site currently includes a two-story office structure and a separate education and visitor center. The new 4,625 square-foot single story structure will be located to the east of the current sanctuary office, across from the existing education center. Two existing storage buildings currently located at the site will be demolished, and the site will be graded in preparation for the new sanctuary community education and learning center’s construction.

“The new sanctuary learning center will be a multi-purpose building,” said sanctuary manager Naomi McIntosh. “It will house additional office space for staff, storage facilities and a large space for education, school classes and public programs.”

Since 1994, when the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary first established its presence in Kihei, it has played a role in protecting the endangered humpback whale and its habitat in Hawaii. The familiar blue buildings have become a landmark on Kihei's coast representing the special significance of Maui's protected waters as the center piece for a marine sanctuary dedicated to the humpback whale.

“A lot of people have helped us get to where we are today,” said NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program Regional Coordinator Allen Tom. “Ten years ago, there was no national marine sanctuary here; there was only a run down government building. Today, through the tireless work of volunteers, visitors and concerned citizens, we have broken ground on a new phase of bringing the marine sanctuary program to the people of Hawaii.”

The sanctuary sponsors education, research and resource management programs from the Kihei office.

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary promotes comprehensive and coordinated management, research, education and long-term monitoring for the endangered humpback whale and its habitat. It has offices on the islands of Maui, O`ahu, Kaua`I and Hawaii.

The sanctuary focuses its efforts on a variety of issues, including supporting the work of marine researchers, coordinating and participating in community outreach projects, developing educational displays, and working cooperatively with local organizations, agencies and volunteers to address resource protection and public awareness.

NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program seeks to increase the public awareness of America’s maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration and educational programs. Today, the sanctuary program manages 13 national marine sanctuaries and one coral reef ecosystem reserve that encompass more than 150,000 square miles of America’s ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources.

NOAA National Ocean Service manages the NMSP and is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving and restoring the nation’s coasts and oceans. The National Ocean Service balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats and mitigating coastal hazards.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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