Hawai'i Wildlife Fund has roots on both Maui and the Big Island (Hawai'i
Island), although its work now extends statewide and into the
Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) Marine National Monument.
Founded in 1996 by two former National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
Bill Gilmartin and
Hannah Bernard, the
organization is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to the conservation
of Hawai'i's native wildlife through research and education.
Gilmartin and Bernard, both award-winning marine biologists and
conservationists, are also members of government-appointed advisory
boards dealing with Hawai'i marine and terrestrial issues. These
boards and committees include: Society for Marine Mammalogy, the
Hawaiian Monk Seal Recovery Team, Pacific Scientific Review Group,
Hawai'i Longline False Killer Whale Take Reduction Team and the
Hawai'i County Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources
The critically endangered status of the Hawaiian monk seal
initially drew the two together to form HWF to support NMFS in this
species' recovery. HWF initiated Hawaiian monk seal watches
(responded to haul out events to provide protection for seals and
education for the public) and marine mammal strandings responses,
now official NOAA programs, which the HWF Team still assists with.
Partnerships are crucial in Hawaiian conservation!
HWF has focused on recovery actions for the endangered Hawaiian hawksbill sea turtle
in Hawai'i including nest protection and identifying foraging
habitat and prey species. In 2000 HWF began similar conservation
efforts, led by marine biologist Cheryl King, with the threatened
Hawaiian green sea turtle by protecting nests, researching basking
behavior, documenting fibropapillomatosis, and rescuing
HWF has led
marine debris recovery efforts
from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, to Maui and the Ka'u (Ka Lae)
area of Hawai'i Island since 1998, pulling over 174 tons of marine
debris from beaches and reefs. Marine biologist Megan Lamson has
directed the Ka'u area efforts together with Bill Gilmartin since
joining HWF in 2008.
On that same shoreline, HWF is working with the State of Hawai‘i
to manage the recovery and protection of native plants and anchialine
pools in a recently designated coastal forest reserve.
HWF worked hard for the Maui and now statewide plastic bag ban
which, along with the HI-5 recycling refund, has noticeably reduced
the amount of discarded trash littering Hawai‘i. HWF has testified
at innumerable public meetings and hearings, and will continue to
stand up for the environment.
A champion of community-based neashore ecosystem management since
2003, HWF co-founded the Makai Watch program, and continues to
assist in its implementation through the statewide steering
committee. HWF's More Fish in The Sea
events gathered key leaders and community members to build
strategies for making this concept a reality.
HWF’s newest (since 2010) educational program brings Maui's youth
into Maui's rain forests
(Uncle Oliver and Auntie Valerie Dukelow's remote and "off the grid"
farm that includes lo‘i and fish farming) to learn about sustainable
practices and Hawaiian cultural values.
Since 1996, HWF has supported outreach education on marine life
naturalist training programs,
student projects and
HWF’s projects are community-based and powered by
and we want to deeply thank all of our supporters
who have helped us be so efficient and successful for nearly
"Ho‘okuleana" means "to take responsibility," as in helping
protect our Hawaiian resources, which is everyone’s responsibility.
There are multiple ways of getting involved, so please join us!