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Waikiki Ecosystem Restoration

In June 2008, with funding from the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation and the support of the Waikiki Improvement Association and Waikiki Aquarium, UH Sea Grant initiated the Waikiki Ecosystem Restoration Project: An Aquarium without Walls. Prior to the launch of this initiative, there was no unified effort to monitor, protect, or restore the coastal and marine resources of Waikīkī, despite abundant threats. Yet maintaining, and restoring, the health and vitality of these natural resources is integral to the continued economic contributions of Hawai‘i’s flagship visitor destination as well as opportunities for surfing, paddling, fishing and other ocean-based activities that contribute to the overall quality of life for O‘ahu’s residents.

To date, program activities have focused on developing a community-based coastal monitoring program ("Reef Watch Waikīkī"), an ocean literacy certification program ("Ocean Awareness Training"), and building partnerships among wide ranging stakeholder groups. With this framework and support network in place, our partners are eager to begin developing strategies to restore the health of Waikīkī's once thriving reefs. We plan to engage these stakeholders in the development of a comprehensive conservation action plan that better integrates disparate efforts to conduct beach management, marine education, and sustainable tourism into an outcome-oriented, community-backed plan.

Before large-scale restoration efforts can begin in earnest, we also need the community’s support to fill much needed data gaps, and the community needs access to information to help them better understand the complexities of coastal environments and the interactions between human use and ecosystem health. Therefore, in tandem with the planning process, we will continue to facilitate increased community stewardship of Waikīkī’s coastal environment by expanding the service capacity of the program’s existing marine education and coastal monitoring components.

Waikiki Ecosystem Restoration Projects include:

  • Reef Watch Waikiki
  • Ocean Awareness Training
  • Pu‘uHONUa: Ensuring a Safe Place for Honu (sea turtles) in Hawaii through Visitor Industry Outreach & Education
  • Community-based Restoration of the Waikiki Marine Life Conservation District
  • Cigarette Litter Prevention Program