Eric Tong is a graduate student at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM) in the Department of Oceanography and a biological technician with the Protected Species Division of the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC). From Kāneʻohe, Oʻahu, Eric’s career in local conservation began in 2009 when he served as an invasive species technician on Mokupāpapa (Kure Atoll) with the Division of Forestry and Wildlife at the DLNR. He has also spent time on Pihemanu (Midway Atoll) with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is currently a board member for the Kure Atoll Conservancy. Since 2010, Eric has been working with the Hawaiian Monk Seal Population Assessment Team for the Main Hawaiian Islands at PIFSC, while pursuing a doctoral degree in Biological Oceanography at UHM’s Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology. Eric began his early graduate work with the ʻOpihi Monitoring Partnership addressing community-specific questions related to their intertidal resources. His research focuses on applied questions of seafood sustainability with the understanding that natural resources are also cultural resources for kānaka ʻōiwi. His methods aim to augment grassroots capacity for community-based resource management approaches that are informed by both contemporary and traditional, place-based practices. Most recently, he worked with a consortium of Koʻolauloa fishers, students, and community members to co-found Kahana Kilo Kai, a grassroots effort to conduct community-based monitoring of nearshore resources and activities and to amplify the traditional maritime wisdom within the ahupuaʻa of Kahana, Oʻahu.
During Eric’s exchange to Tahiti, he will visit with key agencies in the French Polynesian fisheries authority – including the Direction des Ressources Marines and the Centre de Recherches Insulaires et Observatoire de l'Environnement – in order to investigate mechanisms, conditions and opportunities for effective fisheries co-management in communities on Tahiti and Mo’ore’a. His visit will be hosted by Te Pū ’Ātiti’a, a non-profit organization representing the kūpuna of Papetō’ai district (Mo’ore’a) involved in the stewardship of local fisheries through (a) preservation of cultural knowledge, (b) community outreach, i.e. fishing workshops, and (c) scientific and cultural research support. Te Pū ’Ātiti’a has also been conducting research on the island of Mo’ore’a into the revitalization of rahui, or traditional systems of Tahitian resource management based on traditional ecological knowledge and kapu. Here in Hawaiʻi, recent movements by several communities towards culturally relevant fisheries management approaches offer new models for seafood sustainability in Pacific Island contexts. This exchange will sponsor a member of Te Pū ʻĀtitiʻa, Teravatūreiariki Atger of Pao Pao, to visit various communities and state/federal agencies here in Hawaiʻi in order to learn about these participatory approaches to marine resource management currently under development.
Ann Marie Gawel grew up in Pohnpei, FSM and Guam. She studied biology at University of Chicago for her bachelor's and returned home to do her master's at the University of Guam. Her master’s research focused on the effects of invasive deer and pigs on limestone forest plant communities in Guam and Rota. She started as a Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) intern with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Previous environmental positions include work with the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Geological Survey Brown Treesnake Research Group. She has worked in a variety of places, including Palau, Alaska, and South Africa. While she was at the University of Guam, she founded the Green Army environmental club, and was honored by the Union of Concerned Scientists with an Ecoservice award for graduate students doing environmental service beyond the scope of their degree work. She is interested in both marine and terrestrial biological issues and has experience with Mariana Island plants, ungulates, marine invertebrates, Pacific land snails, evolutionary radiations, and watershed restoration. For PEEP, she is planning to work with the Micronesian Conservation Trust on forest conservation in the FSM.