VALIDATING TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE CONCERNING THE HARVEST OF MARINE RESOURCES USING THE HAWAIIAN MOON CALENDAR

Alan Friedlander1, Kelson Poepoe2, Kaipo Poepoe2, Kanoho Helm2, Paul Bartram3

1 The Oceanic Institute, 
Makapu'u Point/41-202 Kalanianaole Hwy,
Waimanalo, Hawai`i 96795 
afriedlander@oceanicinstitute.org 

2 Hui Malama o Mo`omomi, 
P.O. Box 173, Kualapu`u, Hawai`i 96748 
3 Pacific American Foundation. 
925 Bethel Street, Suite 101, Honolulu, Hawai`i. 96813

Subsistence fishing is culturally and economically important to many rural communities in Hawaii and in previous times Hawaiians developed a management system that provided for sustainable harvest of their natural resources. The traditional system in Hawaii emphasized social and cultural controls on fishing with a code of conduct that was strictly enforced. Harvest management was not based on a specific amount of fish but on identifying the specific times and places that fishing could occur so it would not disrupt the basic processes and habitats of important food resources. Understanding when, where, and how to conduct fishing so that it is compatible with local resource dynamics requires an intimate knowledge of natural rhythms and processes associated with these resources. The moon calendar is a tool that the ancient Hawaiians developed for holistic understanding of marine and terrestrial environments that emphasizes the biological and ecological processes that repeat at specific places and times. On-going studies to reconstruct the moon calendar are being conducted by the Hui Malama o Mo`omomi, a group devoted to the wise use of the inshore fisheries along the northwest coast of the island of Moloka`i. Community resource monitors are being taught traditional Hawaiian observational methods of monitoring marine resources based upon careful observation by expert fishermen and their recorded observations become the raw material to construct a calendar patterned after the traditional moon calendar. Information validating traditional Hawaiian knowledge makes management decisions more understandable and acceptable to local communities with a history of local resource knowledge.