Impact Areas

We lead and facilitate a wide range of scientific activities in support of our community partners. These activities range from coral reef monitoring to water quality testing to mapping of historical archeological sites. The data and scientific findings are shared with partners from the communities that we serve along with County, State, and Federal government agencies.

Examples of our work include long-term monitoring of reef fish stocks for all of South Kona District, coral health monitoring for all of West Hawaiʻi Island, and land-based pollutants into the Miloliʻi Community-based Subsistence Fishing Area (CBSFA). Our primary goal is to make scientific data collectable, sharable, and actionable by and for communities.


We lead and facilitate numerous approaches to improving environmental stewardship in South Kona District, West Hawaiʻi Island, and across the State of Hawaiʻi. In South Kona District, we coordinate and serve the Miloliʻi Makai Watch, a community group that works to educate, disseminate, and cooperate with community members to improve ocean and coastal resource stewardship.

Much of Hawaiʻi MERCʻs efforts focus on the Miloliʻi Community-based Subsistence Fishing Area (CBSFA), but we also help a wide range of communities to establish their own Makai Watches. We work with Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) conservation enforcement, NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, and Hawaiʻi Police Department to strengthen community ties that enhance ocean and coastal land outcomes.


Polynesians made landfall in the South Kona area as far back at 1600 years ago. Through generations upon generations of trial and error, native Hawaiians grew their know-how and passed those lessons down to their successors. Hawaiʻi MERC strongly believes that this intergenerational knowledge is key to ecological sustainability, and thus we strongly support Indigenous leadership in environmental education and management.

To promote these principles, we support the growth of native Hawaiian leaders through sponsorships, partnered education and training, and leadership support. Our role is one of facilitator, fundraiser, and always, student (haumana), of the Hawaiian knowledge that has sustained the islands for centuries.


We engage and coordinate collaborative approaches to drive blue development, a term we use to describe land-based activities that improve nearshore water quality and reef conditions. We measure and monitor nearshore pollution, reporting to communities and government agencies. We learn from experts and educate communities on ways to decrease human-borne pollutants via household and commercial wastewater and solid materials disposal. The goal is a cleaner environment on land, which is key to increasing coral reef resilience.