UH student builds cooperation for community-based monitoring here

HA‘ENA — It took 20 years for the state’s first community-based subsistence fishing area to be created on Kauai, and Emily Cadiz from Oahu was one of the people who helped make it happen.

“She was instrumental in helping us gather information,” said Presley Wann, president of the Hui Maka‘ainana o Makana. “We need the science of it to reprove the knowledge our kupuna had of this place.”

Cadiz made about 30 trips to Kauai, flying from Oahu monthly during her research, which she also used for her master’s thesis, “Pilina — Malama — Aina Momona.”

She’s getting her master’s degree from UH Manoa.

Her goal was to help build capacity and encourage things like documentation so the community can build a body of information about the place.

“There’s a need for monitoring and we want to get more community-based,” Cadiz said. “The challenge in Hawaii is community members trying to balance their knowledge with western science.”

Cadiz said there’s a gap between community based and scientific monitoring. She’d like to see that space close.

“The community already knows a lot of stuff, so we’re documenting this knowledge to add to the foundation of monitoring,” she said.

At the beginning of her research, Cadiz did “anything and everything to get out and meet the community,” and built the relationships that would lead to cooperation with her goal.

Collecting information from fishermen was the next step for Cadiz, who set up several methods for fishermen to report their catches and activity at their fishing spots.

“This is sensitive information about where fishermen go,” Cadiz said. “We let them report anonymously with stickers, but still it took trust.”

What species are spawning when, the size and condition of the fish, the conditions of the wind and water during specific months, as well as the plant and land animal cycles are all part of the data being collected.

It’s something that ancient Hawaiians kept track of with vigor and passing on that knowledge was part of the tradition. Passing that knowledge through families is still tradition with the Hawaiian culture, she said, but it needs to be documented.

“We want to continue the practice and eventually identify the trends and cycles (of Ha‘ena) for contemporary times,” Cadiz said.

The Ha‘ena Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area bill was signed into law by Gov. David Ige in August 2015.

The Ha‘ena CBSFA includes state waters within the Ha‘ena ahupuaa. It extends from the shoreline out one mile and along the coast from the border of Na Pali Coast State Park to just east of Makua (Tunnels) Beach.

“There’s a need to make a place sustainable and being community based (being a CBSFA), it’s on the cutting edge,” Wann said. “It’s a trend that’s happening all over the world because the government isn’t doing such a good job. We can’t depend on them.”

Next steps for the community-based monitoring program are to create a website that will get everybody on the same page with documenting and finding ways to help people remember to write things down.

The importance of relationships, community empowerment and inclusive operations were some of the concepts Cadiz took away from her research.

“We need more place-based education, and the final reflection is the importance of having this special place,” she said. “I think I got more out of the project than they did.”

Cadiz presented her thesis at Kauai Community College Monday afternoon and Waipa Keanolani Hale on Feb 10.

She has one more presentation scheduled at 6 p.m. today at the Kekaha School library.

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