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Schatz Applauds Official Designation Of He‘eia National Estuarine Research Reserve

On Appropriations Committee, Schatz Worked to Increase Funding for Research Reserves

WASHINGTON – Today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the official designation of the He‘eia National Estuarine Research Reserve. U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) has been a strong supporter of the site, and as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has worked to increase NOAA’s budget for research reserves like the one proposed in He'eia, Kãne'ohe Bay.

“The He‘eia Reserve recognizes Native Hawaiian and western management science and will use both to study the Kane'ohe Bay estuary,” said Senator Schatz.  “The proposed reserve includes a taro lo‘i, managed by Kakoaiwi, and a fishpond, managed by Paepae o He‘eia, in addition to a portion of Kaneohe Bay and the University of Hawai‘i’s Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology.  I am excited to see what we may discover when Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners work with UH’s scientists to understand He‘eia.”

An estuary is the area where inland waters flow to the ocean. These areas are important for communities and wildlife, providing habitat for birds and baby fish, while also buffering against coastal flooding and erosion.  States can nominate particularly critical estuaries to be recognized by NOAA as Estuarine Research Reserves.  He‘eia joins an existing network of 28 such sites, and it is already recognized for its integration of native and western stewardship practices.  This is critical because it helps ensure that Native Hawaiians continue to play a vibrant part in managing our land and oceans.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Schatz has successfully increased NOAA’s funding for NERRS so that it supports additional sites like He‘eia.  At his request, last year’s 2016 NERRS budget was increased by $1.7 million from its base of $21.3 million to $23 million.