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My Support for Moʻomomi CBSFA

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed below, though written by a part owner of The Molokai Dispatch, are his personally, and are not representative of The Molokai Dispatch as a newspaper.

Opinion by Todd Yamashita

Aloha friends, Iʻm reaching out to you right now not as a publisher but as a member of our community – one who cares about the future of our community as much as you surely do.

Sailing on Hokulea, removing thousands of pounds of plastic from the Pacific gyre, volunteering in the fishponds of Molokai, and cleaning our beaches daily with family and friends – my life in conservation comes from the hope my boys will inherit a Molokai like mine: rich in marine resources, and rich in culture.

I consider myself lucky to be working hand-in-hand with the people putting their lives on the line not only to maintain Hawaii’s resources, but to grow them toward a bountiful state. There are some who do it in their own way, and there are others who are working together. Either way, the people I see are typically fighting for the things they love with a high degree of joy and unity.

From what I’ve seen of this statewide ʻohana of stewards, there are a few takeaways I want to share:

Hawaii is leading the charge in its conservation efforts and trending in a more powerful direction; whether it is stopping the desecration of Mauna Kea, or sailing the Hawaiian canoe Hokuleʻa around the world, all eyes are on Hawaii and the inclusive actions we are taking to raise awareness and create change.

Conservation in Hawaii is making headway because the sentiment today is that the only pathway to success in the islands is by empowering our locals and indigenous Hawaiian people to be the leaders and decision-makers to best manage the kuleana of their communities. This idea that any governmental agency can effectively manage sensitive lands and resources is regarded as ineffective without the local and cultural element being at the center.

And that the reason why there is traction for conservation in Hawaii’ is because of the most powerful common component we share: aloha. Most people working in conservation are like you and I – they lead with their heart and shared love for our islands and its people. No hidden agendas… we do what we do for the sake of our community and family, and most of all, to protect the things we love.

Whether you agree with my observations or not, I want you guys to please look up our Hawaiian naturalists and others here on Molokai and throughout Hawaii. You will find many of them. You will discover indeed that they are making bold moves to care for our mauka and makai. And you might be surprised and inspired that they are using traditional stewardship techniques and indigenous knowledge as a basis for their work and successes.

As for Moʻomomi CBSFA, I feel I can speak openly about my support because I′ve been a solid part of the 27 years of work that has gone into it. I can proudly say that every ounce of energy has been used to make it an inclusive process for the Hawaiian and local people who call Molokai home… and that indeed it was created by, and on-behalf of our local people. I am excited that at the core of this designation, is the empowerment of our community to decide its own destiny.

But more than anything, my support comes in knowing that my two young boys can grow up proud that it’s their culture, their people and their own participation that will keep Molokai ʻaina momona.

And this is why I am asking you directly to take the time to understand what this is about and what is at stake. In the end, whether you agree with me or not, I ask that you please give your write testimony for this important designation: mail or email written testimony by Aug. 26 to the Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), 1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 330, Honolulu, HI 96813, DLNR.Aquatics@hawaii.gov or CBSFA@hawaii.gov.

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