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Mālama ʻĀina

Mālama' Aina is a Hawaiian phrase that means caring for and honoring the land. This deceptively simple yet endangered practice is at the core of indigenous Hawaiian culture. It guides the current Hawaiian sovereignty politics in Hawai'i.

The objectives of this partnership include the following:

About Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund

Founded in 1996, HWF’s mission is to protect native wildlife, focusing on coastal and marine wildlife species across Hawaiʻi, including the hawksbill sea turtle (honuʻea) and the Hawaiian green sea turtle (honu), and many other finned, feathered, flippered, and plant friends.

We engage and inspire our communities, keiki (kids) and volunteers in education, outreach, marine debris removal, conservation, research, and advocacy campaigns to keep Hawaiʻi alive and wild.

Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of Hawaiʻi’s wildlife.

Visit the Hawai'i Wildlife fund website

Protecting Sea Turtles

Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund is passionate about protecting our beloved honu and honu‘ea (sea turtles). Every summer we patrol beaches looking for nests and then spend countless nights camping on the beach and sitting in the sun all day, waiting for the first hatchlings to arrive. Exquisite patience is required, plus the hundreds of volunteers who make this project successful. Going strong for over 25 years, protecting more than 11,000 hatchlings, the reward never gets old.

Through conservation efforts, public awareness, beachfront lighting reductions, fence repairs, dune restoration, beach cleanups, radio and satellite telemetry, coordination of monitoring for nesting turtles through the Dawn Patrol and Nest Watch program, genetic foraging studies, and determining in-water distribution and abundance, HWF is helping to save honu and honu‘ea their nesting habitats.

Protecting Humpback Whales & Marine Debris Removal

HWF worked to support the state’s acceptance of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary in 1997, with HWF cofounder Hannah Bernard serving on the Sanctuary Advisory Council in the 1990’s. HWF representatives continue to work with the Sanctuary Advisory Council and its working groups.

Entanglement by marine debris, mainly ghost fishing nets, are a major threat to whales and can kill or seriously injure whales and other marine wildlife. In addition to hosting local beach cleanups, Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund is a leader in the Hawaiʻi Nei Marine Debris Removal Partnership. Over the past two years, the Hawaiʻi Nei Marine Debris Removal Project, a collaborative partnership with three groups, has worked to remove over 370,000 pounds of pollution from four different Hawaiian Islands.

HWF is helping to use the marine debris collected for research, art, and re-use initiatives. The Hawaiian archipelago acts like a sieve and collects floating debris from around the North Pacific basin in what’s been dubbed the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, a gyre that is estimated to be larger than the state of Texas.

Educational program

Since 1996, HWF has supported outreach education on marine life conservation through naturalist training programs, student projects and internships.

Our environmental educators visit elementary grade classrooms (focused on Hawai‘i Island and Maui) to teach students the science behind our fragile Hawaiian coastal ecosystems. Using a hands-on approach, students use scientific equipment to perform data collection, analysis and hypothesis-based experiments while getting up close on field trips with living organisms from anchialine pools, coastal ponds, and estuaries.

Our rich internship program allows people of all ages to immerse themselves in island life and culture while making a positive change in the natural world. We also host select college and graduate-level interns for research projects.

Clean Land & Water Thanks to Advocacy Campaigns

HWF worked hard on Maui to institute a statewide plastic bag ban which has noticeably reduced the amount of discarded trash littering Hawai‘i. HWF testified at innumerable public meetings and hearings to pass this legislation.

The fate of the nation’s clean water hung in the balance in County of Maui v. Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund. In 2020, the case went to the Supreme Court and the nation’s highest court ruled for HWF and other clean water advocates in a decades-long legal dispute involving a wastewater treatment plant, its pollution discharges, and a partially dead coral reef in Hawaiʻi. The court's decision solidified the Clean Water Act’s place as one of the nation’s most effective environmental laws.


Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund is a highly effective organization run by energetic leaders accomplishing many goals. The team is small but mighty!

Together with thousands of volunteers over two decades, HWF has saved over 11,000 endangered hawksbill and green sea turtle hatchlings, protected hundreds of threatened Hawaiian green sea turtles, recovered miles of sensitive native coastal habitat (by removing over 345 tons of marine debris, protecting native plants, and restoring native wildlife), hosted six science symposia, trained hundreds of marine naturalists and interns, reached over 4,000 grade-school students on three islands, assisted in setting local, national and international marine conservation policy, fought for clean water at the Supreme Court, educated more than a million people about the marine ecosystem and so much more!

Our partner organizations for protecting nature

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