The Hawaiian Archipelago sits in the Pacific Ocean, 2,000 miles from the nearest land mass. The Hawaiian chain includes the eight inhabited islands of the State of Hawai‘i and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Completely surrounded by ocean water, all land mass is classified as within the coastal zone; Hawai‘i is the only state with this characteristic. It makes ocean resource protection an acute and life-sustaining necessity for people, for marine species, and for their habitat.
When Hawaiians speak of water, they are referring to a life source. Aia ke ola i ka wai: With water, there is life. Rainfall water falls onto the top of the mountains, feeds the waterfalls, the streams and rivers, and ultimately runs into the ocean that surrounds Hawai‘i. Therefore, resource management includes both ocean and coastal resources, and the water that feeds the ocean surrounding the islands.
The Ocean Resources Management Plan (ORMP) is a comprehensive plan mandated by Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) Chapters 205A and 225M. The ORMP is prepared to address activities by agencies and entities in the State of Hawai‘i. As a state plan, the first audience is state agencies with responsibilities for the land, coast, and ocean. But since jurisdiction for these activities also includes federal and local entities, they are considered partners in state activities. Furthermore, as citizen stewards of the land and the ocean, every person present in Hawai‘i, resident and visitor alike, plays an important role in the protection and preservation of ocean and coastal resources.
The purpose of the ORMP as required in HRS Section 205A-4 is to provide a framework and implementation strategy for state agencies and others working with state agencies. The framework considers ecological, cultural, historic, aesthetic, recreational, scenic, and open space values. The framework considers coastal hazards and it balances protection with economic development in marine and coastal areas.
The ORMP is updated every five years through a process that includes extensive government feedback and statewide public input as required by HRS Section 205A-62. This is the fourth Hawai‘i ORMP since the first plan was written in 1985.
Addressing pressures on Hawaii’s ocean and coastal ecosystems, competing uses and overuse, sustainability, and preserving these assets for future generations are all critical in this plan, just as they are in the Hawai‘i 2050 Sustainability Plan.