Smith Fellows
Smith Fellow


Achieving global goals to conserve biodiversity and promote the prosperity of global communities depends on the inclusion of Indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs). Achieving these goals is particularly important for nearshore marine systems, where corals are one of the fastest declining species and millions of people depend on coastal fisheries. Yet global conservation goals will not be realized unless they are taken as an opportunity to restore authority to IPLCs. Effective partnerships between IPLCs and governments are essential for conservation success, but attempts to build lasting partnerships often fail due to insufficient institutional (e.g. laws, policies, processes) and financial support for the long-term engagement of IPLCs. I will partner with a state-wide network of coastal communities in Hawai’i and with the Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources to explore the institutional arrangements needed to support IPLCs in their efforts to lead decision-making for their nearshore marine systems under the state initiative “Holomua”. This initiative seeks to build partnerships between the state and communities to increase the effectiveness of nearshore fisheries management. I will work with communities and government to identify diverse stakeholders’ needs, and investigate the legal and administrative processes available to implement adaptive management and incorporate IPLCs as decision-makers. I will then bring together global experts to develop lessons learned for the Pacific and the world. As a recognized leader in biocultural approaches and a Local 2030 Hub for the Sustainable Development Goals, Hawaii is an ideal case for generating broadly applicable results. Hawai’i’s communities, government, and nonprofits are at a rare moment of alignment around a commitment to implementing Holomua through IPLC leadership. This research will contribute to realizing this opportunity to bring IPLC-led management into reality in a place with a history of sparking change across the Pacific and the world.