We were fortunate to have participated in a socio-economic monitoring training which was held in Yap, Federated States of Micronesia, through generous support from the Micronesia Conservation Trust and the Pacific Islands Managed and Protected Areas Community (PIMPAC) program. Despite the yawn-inspiring title of the workshop, this training was an inspiring exchange of knowledge and experiences between community based marine managed areas in Yap and the community-based subsistence fishing area (CBSFA) program in Hawaiʻi, and was invaluable to the development of a socio-economic monitoring program for CBSFAs .
The juxtaposition of Hawai`i’s and Yap’s approaches to community based management made the differences between the two seem vast at first, as Yap is the most traditional of the Micronesian states, where villages retain their traditional customs and governance systems and decision-making authority. As villages’ retain full tenure to their ocean resources, and their traditional village management systems remain intact, village councils are able to establish marine managed areas in consultation with community members, as well as enforce their local rules and traditional customs. In this system, designating marine managed areas is much more efficient, and designation can be achieved within a year. Interestingly, despite having full decision making and enforcement authority, village councils expressed a desire to have more institutionalized state recognition of their local marine resource management rules so that they can use the state’s court system to address resource violations when penalties imposed by village councils are ignored (e.g. fines unpaid), and/or to avoid invoking harsher traditional penalties (e.g. land seizure, physical force).
However, in the end, we discovered we had much more in common with our neighbor Pacific Island communities than first appeared. We are all seeking better management of ocean resources for ourselves and future generations; and despite the distinct challenges and differing governance and management systems, we similarly recognize that we can better achieve our marine management goals when we collaborate with the state. However, we equally recognize that we cannot wait for the state to achieve our goals for us, and that it takes strong, committed community leaders to make difficult decisions and pave the way forward to affect the change we want to see.
Having the opportunity to spend time talking story, learning from one another, and working collaboratively together, helped grow our mutual understanding and trust, which is valuable to building a successful co-management partnership – but most importantly, for building a friendship.
Erin Zanre is the State’s Community-based Subsistence Fishing Area Planner tasked with helping the Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) develop processes for collaborating with communities to better manage the marine resources important to local food security and Hawaiian cultural practices. Before moving to Hawaiʻi, Erin similarly worked to build the capacity of communities, non-governmental organizations, and government agencies to implement community-based natural resource management and sustainable development initiatives in Southeast Asia and Africa.
Kawika Winter is the Director of Limahuli Garden and Preserve where the goals is the ecological and cultural restoration of Limahuli Valley, using the ahupua`a system of resource management as a template for this work. Through Limahuli and his support of the Hui Makaʻāinana o Makana, and the Hāʻena Makai Watch program he has become strong leader and participant in the E Alu Pū network. A student of Kumu John Kaimikaua, he is a father of two and an avid ʻawa connoisseur.