Pacific Remote Islands Coalition members Solomon Pili Kahoʻohalahala and William Ailā, Jr.
receive Sanctuary Wavemaker Award
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two Native Hawaiian leaders and longtime members of the Pacific Remote
Islands (PRI) Coalition were honored for championing protections for our oceans and advocating for
environmental justice. The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation presented Solomon Pili
Kahoʻohalahala and William Ailā, Jr. with the Sanctuary Wavemaker Award in the Ronald Reagan
Building atrium in Washington, D.C. this week, on World Oceans Day.
“We are truly grateful and honored to be recognized for the strides that have been taken to protect our
waters,” said Ailā, Jr. “As a fisherman and Native Hawaiian, I feel a deep connection to the ocean. It
brought our ancestors home and sustained our people for generations. It is why we must continue to
fight to protect our ocean and the lifeforms that call it home.”
“Hawaiians have long been on the forefront of conservation and resource management,” said
Kahoʻohalahala. “This award demonstrates that our efforts in promoting Indigenous knowledge is key to
protect our ocean and its finite resources. It’s time we expand on our efforts to preserve our waters
until it is too late.”
The Sanctuary Wavemaker Award recognizes the dedication of citizens conducting critical work that
benefits national marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments, and are active advocates and
ambassadors for national marine sanctuaries. Both Ailā, Jr. and Kahoʻohalahala have long been involved
in Indigenous and community-based conservation management, and the creation of the
Papahānaumokuākea and PRI national monuments. Traditional Hawaiian values are key to how the pair
work, lead, and live.
“The kumulipo (Hawaiian creation chant) shows us that our connection to the ocean goes back to the
beginning of time,” said Kahoʻohalahala. “It is not only our responsibility to care for her; it is our promise
to provide a resource for future generations.”
Both Kahoʻohalahala and Ailā, Jr. are members of the PRI Coalition, advocating for a new national
marine sanctuary that encompasses the current PRI marine national monument and expands to the full
limit (200 nautical miles) of the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) around Howland and Baker Islands
and Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll. The proposed national marine sanctuary would conserve about
777,000 square miles of highly protected waters and create the world’s largest marine protected area.
Under a proposal from the PRI Coalition, creation of the new marine sanctuary would also give
Indigenous Pacific Islanders a place at the decision-making table when it comes to co-management and
re-naming the area, as well as honor the service, sacrifice and significance of the Hui Panalāʻau.
Congressman Ed Case (D-HI), who has supported the PRI Coalition’s efforts, and Congressman Raúl
Grijalva (D-AZ) also received the Leadership Award, which honors political leaders who demonstrate a
commitment to ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes stewardship.
– PAU –
About the Pacific Remote Islands Coalition
In 2014, the Pacific Remote Islands Coalition formed to protect the cultural, natural, and historical
legacy of these special islands, atolls, and reefs. Our diverse network includes elders, fishers, educators,
cultural practitioners, non-profits, community groups, scientists, religious organizations, veterans, and
many others across the Pacific and beyond. We are a coalition brought together by a love for the ocean
that connects and sustains us. Learn more at protectpri.com.
MEDIA CONTACT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Honey Maltin-Wisot June 9, 2023