Hawai‘i Ocean Resources Management Plan: Planning for natural, cultural, and socioeconomic needs

Rachel M. Gregg
Posted on: 2/20/2017 - Updated on: 10/26/2021

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Rachel Gregg

Project Summary

The Hawai‘i Ocean Resources Management Plan provides a framework for coastal and marine management that considers ecological, cultural, and economic needs throughout the archipelago. This plan is updated every five years in order to incorporate updated information and additional stakeholder input. It required component of Hawai‘i’s Coastal Zone Management Program.

The 2013 plan outlined 11 management priorities, several of which incorporated considerations of climate change. In terms of coastal development (Management Priority #1), the plan outlined goals and actions to improve:

  • Managed retreat of coastal infrastructure, including identifying retreat zones, eliminating shoreline armoring, acquiring land, and creating tax-based incentives for public and private property owners;
  • Siting of infrastructure, including consideration of public shoreline access and durability of infrastructure;
  • Passive survivability or the ability of coastal communities to be able to withstand extended periods of power outages and loss of water and sewer services; and
  • Nature-based infrastructure to buffer the shorelines from coastal hazards.

To appropriately manage coastal hazards (Management Priority #2), the plan called for the adoption of best management practices into county laws to reduce climate-related coastal hazard risks, coastal mapping of the main Hawaiian Islands, and the development of climate risk and adaptation analyses for public facilities. This included:

  • Developing guidance on integrating climate change into county plans and permits;
  • Conducting shoreline erosion studies and risk maps for Hawai‘i, Lāna‘i and Moloka‘i, and updating those completed for Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, and Maui; and
  • Hosting training sessions for state and county officials on coastal-hazard-related risks to public facilities.

Coral reefs in the Hawaiian Islands help to buffer the shoreline from wave energy and provide habitat for species critical to Native Hawaiian culture, commercial fishing, and recreation and tourism. The plan outlined several goals for coral reefs (Management Priority #5), including improving the health and productivity of reef systems and creating day-use moorings to reduce boating impacts on coral reefs, while helping to reduce user conflicts and maintain public access to the ocean. Actions included identifying sites for new day-use moorings in collaboration with state, commercial and recreational boating operators, and others, educating boaters on day-use moorings and negative impacts of boating on coral reefs, and installing reef etiquette signs.  

The ORMP was updated for the fifth time in 2020 and is guided by four overarching principles: promoting the land-sea connection, Native Hawaiian ecological knowledge, collaboration and stewardship, and climate adaptation in advancing all ORMP initiatives. The updated plan refines the 2013 objectives to focus on three focus areas and five priorities. The focus areas include development and coastal hazards, land-based pollution, and marine ecosystems. The management priorities include the ocean economy; cultural heritage; training, education, and awareness; collaboration and conflict resolution; and community- and place-based ocean management activities. As part of this initiative, ORMP partners track progress towards implementation. Example metrics include:

  • Number of county general plans and county development plans that include adaptation;
  • Number of shoreline erosion studies and maps completed/updated;
  • Number of trainings provided to community groups; and
  • Miles of beaches conserved or restored using nature-based practices.

The ORMP Dashboard tracks the implementation of the plan’s management priorities. For example, as of 2020, nearly all counties in Hawaii incorporated climate change adaptation into two or more plans.


Gregg, R.M. 2021. Hawai‘i Ocean Resources Management Plan: Planning for natural, cultural, and socioeconomic needs. Summary of a project of the Hawaii Coastal Zone Management Program. Version 2.0. Retrieved from CAKE: www.cakex.org/case-studies/hawaii-ocean-resources-management-plan-planni...(Last updated October 2021)

Affiliated Organizations

The Hawaii CZM Program focuses its work on the complex resource management problems of coastal areas in the part of the State that is under the highest stress. Within a framework of cooperation among federal, state, and local levels, the Hawaii CZM Program employs a wide variety of regulatory and non-regulatory techniques to address coastal issues and uphold environmental law.

Related Resources

Adaptation Phase
Sharing Lessons
Sector Addressed
Climate Justice
Conservation / Restoration
Culture / Communities
Disaster Risk Management
Education / Outreach
Land Use Planning
Rural / Indigenous Livelihoods
Transportation / Infrastructure
Water Resources
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