Reconciling Ecosystem-Based Management and Focal Resource Conservation in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument


John N. Kittinger1, Derek J. Skillings2, Kimo K. Carvalho3, Lora L.N. Reeve4, Melanie Hutchinson5, Katherine Cullison6, Janna Shackeroff7, Malia Chow8, Judith Lemus9
1Department of Geography, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow, Integrated Graduate Education, Research and Training (IGERT) Program in Ecology, Conservation and Pathogen Biology
2Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawai‘i
3Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument
4W.S. Richardson School of Law and Department of Zoology, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa,
5Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawai‘i
6Department of Botany, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
7At time of report preparation: Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument Current: NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program
8Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument
9Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

In May 2008, the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) conducted a “Distributed Graduate Seminar” bringing graduate students and faculty from seven universities, Office of National Marine Sanctuary (ONMS) staff, and other interested parties to examine Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) as effective tools for Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM). Students, faculty, ONMS staff, and guest lecturers used NCEAS informatics tools to connect with each other via an online course website, video conferencing, and a chat bulletin board to discuss how ecosystem processes within MPAs can allow resource managers to manage MPAs as integral components of the ecosystems in which they reside. As a course product, students at each university were required to produce a case study of a MPA within their respective regions. Students addressed how their MPA can effectively implement EBM within its boundaries, contribute to broader EBM efforts within their region, and how their MPAs can meet local management objectives and simultaneously contribute to broader regional objectives. Students also discussed the legal and jurisdictional barriers and opportunities for EBM efforts at local and regional scales.

Currently throughout the Pacific region, there is an increasing trend in protecting larger-scale marine areas, which includes managing many different stakeholder groups and multiple biological, socio-economic, ecological, and cultural resources. Additionally, with the establishment of new U.S. Marine National Monuments, co-managing agencies are mandated to work with each other to manage multiple resources via an EBM approach. This case study uses the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (monument) as an example of how co- managers currently implement EBM into large-scale MPA management. Through working with monument staff and discussing the challenges and obstacles of managing this large-scale MPA, University of Hawaii at Mānoa (UH-Mānoa) graduate students proposed a new planning and management approach to better integrate EBM and conservation of focal resources in monument via a prioritization process that identifies the biological, cultural, and social resources through a stakeholder process that can aid protected area management.

Following the Graduate Seminar, UH-Mānoa graduate students discussed their case study with monument managers. Results were positive in nature. The group encouraged the monument’s three co-managing agencies to strategically implement EBM into future programs and activities using innovative EBM tools, such as the one described below. Additionally, graduate students from all participating universities, including UH-Mānoa, were able to come together at a working group meeting in Santa Barbara, California in April 2009 to exchange perspectives, experiences, and knowledge to develop scholarly products based on collective student work during their seminars. This information will help the ONMS effectively implement EBM management approaches within their boundaries and contribute to broader EBM efforts in the regions in which they occur.

Key Words:

Marine Spatial Planning, Ecosystem Based Management, Marine Protected Areas, Protected Resources, Focal Resources, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Ecosystem Vulnerability