Makai Watch Program
Mālama Pūpūkea-Waimea has decided to form a community watch program based on the Mauka Makai Watch program developed by Community Links Hawai'i and other non-profit organizations in partnership with DLNR for coastal communities here in Hawaii-nei. The program aims to enhance management of the MLCD with the community’s assistance in three areas:
- Awareness-raising and Outreach: Makai Watch engages community members in high priority coastal areas to provide information about marine ecology, regulations, best fishing practices, and other items important to their area. These outreach efforts will likely reduce the misuse of marine resources as resource users become more aware of both the law and local best practices to conserve marine resources.
- Biological and Human-use Monitoring: To encourage continued community participation, it is important that community members understand the condition of marine resources, how they are being used, and how they change over time. Makai Watch volunteers learn how to collect information on human use of marine resources (fishing, kayaking, collecting, etc.) and on the biological condition of those resources. Over time, they will see the results of their management actions, such as increasing numbers of fish or improving coral health.
- Observation and Compliance: While awareness-raising and outreach helps to reduce illegal activities, poaching is likely to continue in some areas. To reduce the willful disregard for laws and regulations governing marine resource use, local community members are trained in how to observe and identify illegal activities, and they have a direct relationship with DOCARE so they can immediately report violations. They are also trained in how to collect evidence so they can help DOCARE build cases against violators.
While Makai Watch will improve the protection of marine resources, it is not an enforcement program. Makai Watch volunteers do not have enforcement powers. Instead Makai Watch participants act as “eyes and ears” for DOCARE by observing violations, collecting information about violations, and send that information to DOCARE. In cases of repeat or severe violations, Makai Watch participants call DOCARE right away and, if available, a DOCARE officer will respond.
Makai Watch is not a substitute for the government roles in educating the public about marine resources and in enforcing resource regulations. Government will continue to play these roles; however, Makai Watch will help government to enhance their efficacy.
Makai Watch is a means for concerned citizens to play a role in ensuring proper management of marine resources. Through the combination of encouraging compliance and providing information to enforcement officers, Makai Watch will reduce inappropriate uses of marine resources, thus helping Hawaii’s near-shore marine ecosystem to recover.