The 2016 Hawaii Chapters Conference brought representatives from every island and the mainland to discuss the most pressing environmental issues facing the coasts of the Hawaiian Islands today. Over the past five years, the Hawaii Chapters have grown into a very powerful regional network, taking on important and complex issues such as seawalls, access, zoning, water quality, land conservation efforts, legislation and plastic pollution. The network has also been successful in using litigation as a campaign tool, when necessary, as evidenced by the Kyo Ya victory at the Hawaii Supreme Court. The Chapter Conference was an excellent opportunity for Surfrider leaders to gather, strategize and celebrate in the beautiful environment of Hawaii.
A main highlight of the conference was the keynote presentation by Dean Denise Antolini of University of Hawaii Richardson Law School. Dean Antolini gave a concise summary of the new Environmental Court and the global effort for the conservaiton of natural resources, the IUCN World Conservation Congress held in Hawaii this year. Amongst the most discussed issues at the coference were the new Ocean Friendly Restaurants Program, Coastal Water Quality Notification Criteria, and the Long Live campaign celebrating coastal enjoyment nationwide.
The Ocean Friendly Restaurant program is thriving in Hawaii with scores of restaurants already signed up and an ambitious goal to reach 500 restaurants set by Hawaiian Island Chapters Manager, Stuart Coleman. To be an OFR, a restaurant must not use expanded polystyrene foam or single-use plastic bags, must use reusable silverware for in house dining, and follow proper recycling practices, for starters.
The conference took place only a day after receiving the great news that Hawaii's Department of Health decided to post water quality notifications at two chronically polluted areas, Waiopili Stream on Kauai and Keehi Lagoon on Oahu. This was a win for Surfrider's Blue Water Testing Program, citizen science efforts and ongoing advocacy efforts aimed at improving water quality in Hawaii, lead in large part by Carl Berg on Kaua'i and Marvin Haskett on Oahu.
Finally, on the last day of the conference, attendees were energized about the new Long Live the Beach activation launched nationwide for Surfrider Foundation. Marketing and Communications Director Nancy Eiring introduced the Long Live campaign, which was praised for its simplicity and inclusiveness.
Overall, it was a successful conference of impressive activists, buoyed by recent wins and charging on to accomplish even more coastal protection.
If you are interested in supporting our chapter leadership development efforts in any region and sponsoring a chapter leadership conference, please contact Tara D'Andrea.