Integrated Ecosystem Assessment Program Convenes Research Symposium in Kona

Pacific blue marlin and other game fish species in the Kona coast pelagic ecosystem have long supported a 
                 recreational fishery that is vital to the local economy.
Pacific blue marlin and other game fish species in the Kona coast pelagic ecosystem have long supported a recreational fishery that is vital to the local economy.

The PIFSC's Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA) program convened a research symposium on "Kona's Marine Ecosystem: Past, Present and Future" in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii during September 15–16, 2011. The purpose of the 2-day event was to provide a forum for scientists and managers to present and discuss historical and ongoing research on the Kona marine ecosystem. The Kona region of Hawaii features a variety of unique marine organisms that are part of a dynamic ecosystem. Moreover, the region faces both ongoing and future challenges related to competing ocean uses, resilience of the biological community, and responses of marine habitats and the Kona ecosystem to climate change. An understanding of how the ecosystem responds to natural and anthropogenic pressures is essential to effectively managing ocean uses in the Kona region.

The initial idea for a Kona coast symposium began during scoping sessions held by the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center's Integrated Ecosystem Assessment program in cooperation with partners in state and federal agencies, academia, and the local community. These scoping sessions helped identify management issues and possible scientific research projects in West Hawaii. A main goal of the PIFSC IEA is to include qualitative and quantitative analyses of biophysical and socioeconomic data that are relevant to ecosystem management efforts for the region. The symposium helped build a foundation towards achieving this goal.

At final tally, more than 100 people registered for the symposium, including managers, scientists, and community members. More than 30 presentations were delivered by participants covering a wide array of topics under several themes: Fisheries and Management, Ecology and Biology, Oceanography, Climate Change, Nearshore impacts on the Kona Ecosystem (e.g., Energy, Aquaculture), Indigenous Knowledge, and Education and Outreach. The symposium also featured a panel discussion on management, featuring environmental managers from the Kona Coast region. This was followed by a discussion period where symposium members could talk about challenges and potentials for effective management of marine ecosystems, and the role that science and research can play in management efforts.