Capturing Local Knowledge to Inform Coral Reef Management in Hawai’i
One of the main objectives of the Hawai’i Coral Reef Strategy is to “reduce key anthropogenic threats to two priority near-shore coral reef sites by 2015.” In 2009, a coastal area in West Maui spanning two watersheds and their adjacent state waters was selected as a site to receive focused technical assistance to help meet this objective. In addition, The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is leading the West Maui Ridge to Reef Initiative, which is planning important restoration work in these same watersheds as well as in two additional adjacent watersheds. The objectives of both these partnerships required a full geospatial assessment of the sites and a survey of local stakeholders on how these areas are used. The wide variety of uses and users, and the lack of existing information, would make obtaining a comprehensive view difficult.
In response to the need for coastal use information, The West Maui Coastal Use Participatory Mapping Project was developed through a partnership of the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources, NOAA's Pacific Islands Regional Office, NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, NOAA’s Marine Protect Areas Center and NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management – Pacific Islands. In June 2011, these partners met with stakeholders to develop a list of island-specific coastal uses to map. In August 2011, three full-day workshops with 47 participants were held at the Lahaina Senior Center in Lahaina, Maui. These workshops used NOAA’s Marine Protected Areas Center’s participatory mapping process, which involved stakeholders and local experts mapping the human coastal uses of the region using GIS software and an interactive whiteboard. Participants created geospatial maps on the fly for 17 coastal uses that included dominant and general footprints for each use. The use data were summarized using an overlay mesh of 100-meter diameter hexagonal cells.
This dataset fills a critical information gap in ocean management by providing a comprehensive, consistent, and spatially explicit picture of human uses for management agencies, policy makers, and stakeholders interested in sound and equitable ocean governance. It depicts patterns of ocean uses on a broad scale appropriate for a variety of ocean planning and management needs. Specifically, the data will be used by Hawaii’s Division of Aquatic Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for watershed and coastal resource management and protection.