Scientists Gather at Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Research Symposium

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BY CARLIE S. WIENER – Managers and scientists from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB), Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, and NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center met at the East-West Center on the Mānoa campus last week to host the fourth annual Northwestern Hawaiian Island Research Symposium.


The symposium provided participants the opportunity to share the latest in marine science research in the Hawaiian Archipelago, specifically highlighting the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, also known as the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, as well as help foster an understanding of Hawaiian reef ecosystems for management and planning in an effort to produce proactive responses to future social and ecological change. Special sessions on the future direction of marine science and management in the Hawaiian Archipelago and a tribute to the late Dr. Isabella Abbott’s life and career (one of the first scientists to explore the marine algae of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands) also took place.

This annual event provides a forum for managers and scientists from different agencies to share their research and encourage collaboration among agencies in Hawai‘i. With the recent inscription of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument on the World Heritage list, the research taking place in the Monument is of great importance. 2010 also marked the fifth anniversary of the HIMB Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Research Partnership. Since 2005, HIMB has been an integral part of Northwestern Hawaiian Islands decision-making process by providing ecosystem-based science to help inform the decisions of this unique ecosystem.

Celebrating the sixth year of this partnership, both managers and HIMB scientists continue to work together offering research support and new scientific knowledge for ecosystem-based management. Scientists continue to characterize the marine resources in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, determining levels of coral health, and monitoring ecosystem threats such as climate change.

Dr. Jo-Ann Leong, director of HIMB refers to the partnership as a “highly dynamic partnership that has not only made huge advances in science, but demonstrates what can be accomplished when scientists and managers work together.” She added “we have been incredibly productive in the last five years, generating over a hundred peer-reviewed publications, ten science reports and hosting four large research symposia.”


Carlie S Wiener is the NWHI Research & Outreach Specialist for the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology