The theme for Hokulea’s worldwide voyage is malama honua, which means to take care of each other and this island in the universe called earth, the only home we have.
There is a scientific aspect to the voyage as well. As nature guides Hokulea and Hikianalia across the world, much focus will be on what lies beneath them.
“It’s a great voyage of peace, not just among ourselves, but making peace with nature,” said Sylvia Earle, a world-renowned marine scientist. Earle is one of many scientists and agencies partnering with Hokulea’s worldwide voyage.
The voyage includes visits to marine areas that are being cared for and seeing progress and areas that need help. “To take us along with her wherever she goes, to see the world with new eyes and to look under the canoe to see what’s happening,” Earle said.
“In the warmup for the worldwide sail, the Hikianalia sailed to Papahanaumokuakea, which is right in our backyard,” said Randy Kosaki, deputy superintendent of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“They’re also going to be passing through some of the very largest marine protected areas (MPAs) in the world,” Kosaki added. “The worldwide voyage is important because it’s going to connect the dots so to speak between a lot of these very large MPAs that are shining examples of successful marine management.”
Among the many MPAs Hokulea will visit are the Phoenix Islands in Kiribati to the south, which were also imperiled by sea level rises from climate change, the Cook Islands, the Great Barrier Reef, Diego Garcia in the Chagos Archipelago of the Indian Ocean and Motu Motiro Hiva in the Eastern Pacific.
All are areas where not only the fish and corals are protected, but in many ways where cultures and cultural practices, such as sustainable fishing, are protected as well.
“These are examples of success stories in marine management,” Kosaki said. “The worldwide voyage is in part about raising awareness about problems and challenges facing the ocean, but maybe more importantly it can point us in the direction of solutions where we can turn things around.”
“This is a mission of hope,” Earle said. “A voice for people, a voice for the ocean, really, a voice for the future.”