Miloliʻi ʻŌpelu Project (NOAA-B-WET)

Understanding and Caring For Marine and Coastal Resources in a Hawaiian Community

The Miloliʻi ʻŌpelu Project is a two year program held in the last fishing village in the State of Hawaiʻi, Miloliʻi. Situated on the isolated, rural and arrid coastal plain of South Kona on Hawaiʻi Island, the fishing village of Miloliʻi remains the most traditional native hawaiian community in the Hawaiian Islands. For centuries Miloliʻi has been known as having an iconic and abundant supply of ʻŌpelu (Mackerel Scad) in its nearshore fishery. Utilizing an innovative method of fishing which blends modern science and the understanding of ocean currents and fish life cycle patterns as well as traditional hawaiian techniques has sustained this fishing village for the last century. With the passing of community elders (kupuna) in recent years, the traditional methods of fishing, primarily the intergenerational transfer of knowledge has not taken place. With only a few traditional ʻŌpelu practitioners left in the village the project aims to revitalize these methods and blend modern science to the K-12 population of Miloliiʻs students. In addition, the project, through meaningful experienceʻs, collaboration with neighboring South Kona fishing communities, lawaiʻa summer camps, community celebrations and service projects aims to educate and improve the stewardship of these marine and coastal resources so precious and prevalent on the South Kona coastline.


The purpose of the Miloliʻi ʻŌpelu Project is to significantly enhance the marine and coastal knowledge base and stewardship action of Miloliiʻs population of K-12 students. By enhancing our students knowledge of earth systems science, climate change, marine and coastal science, hazards and management, the project will strengthen the foundation for improved community stewardship of critical marine and coastal resources.


The overall goal of the two year program will be that Miloliʻi youth will gain and actively apply practical knowledge or traditional and contemporary science and best management practices for marine and coastal resources thus greatly enhancing the foundation for resource stewardship and community resiliency. To achieve these goals the program will pursue four mutually supportive objectives:

  • Through a series of meaningful experiences in the Miloliʻi ahupuaʻa, youth and their families will gain practical knowledge of both traditional Hawaiian marine and coastal science and stewardship approaches as well as contemporary science & best management approaches.
  • Youth and the Miloliʻi community are inspired and actively apply their new knowledge to pursue stewardship activities that help to care for marine and coastal resources.
  • Miloliʻi youth will gain practical knowledge of traditional ʻōpelu fishing and will apply that knowledge using the hawaiian moon calendar and the observation of the traditional hawaiian fishing, farming and kapu seasonʻs.
  • Miloliʻi youth, teachers and practitioners will share that knowledge through ʻōpelu cultural exchanges with other Hawaiʻi island communities to help establish or re-establish nearshore ʻōpelu fisheries that have not been nurtured for decades.