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New Partnership Brings Whale Sanctuary Education

NOAA News Release

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and the nonprofit organization ʻAina Momona have signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to develop new outreach and educational projects for the community of Molokai. It is the first MOA between the sanctuary and a nonprofit on the island of Molokai.

ʻAina Momona is a Molokai-based Native Hawaiian nonprofit organization, founded in 2017 by Executive Director Walter Ritte and Trisha Kehaulani Watson, both former sanctuary advisory council members.

“We’re excited to partner with NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary on the stewardship of Molokai’s resources,” said Ritte. “Our reefs and ocean are important sources of food for our island people, who rely heavily on a subsistence economy. We can work with NOAA to use traditional knowledge to make sure the resources are managed sustainability.”

‘Aina Momona is based out of Keawanui Fishpond and Cultural Learning Site on the east end of Molokai. The organization manages the 55-acre traditional Hawaiian Keawanui Fishpond. It is one of the most complete Native Hawaiian fishponds on the island, and is entirely within the sanctuary’s boundary.

Several of the outdoor learning spaces at the Keawanaui site will eventually be used by the sanctuary for outreach and other projects on the island of Molokai. The MOA outlines possible future projects including virtual workshops for students, a virtual workshop with native Hawaiian practitioners focused on Native Hawaiian fishpond restoration, and a workshop of Native Hawaiian kupuna (elders) from around the state to discuss nearshore water quality issues.

“We are looking forward to this new community partnership on Molokai, bringing together students and residents with our sanctuary researchers and educators.” said Allen Tom, superintendent of Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. “We hope that other communities adjacent to the sanctuary will seek our partnership, and opportunities for engagement.”

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is administered by a partnership of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the State of Hawaii through the Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR). The sanctuary works to protect humpback whales through research, education, conservation and stewardship. Join us on Facebook.

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