Hawaii Quietly Abandoned Its 30×30 Conservation Plan to Prevent Biodiversity Loss

by Vins
Published: Updated:

Hawaii resource officials abandoned the 30×30 conservation goal in January 2023. Marcel Honore’s February 2023 article, “Hawaii’s Innovative Plan To Manage Marine Resources Is Being Quietly Rolled Back,” reported on the decision, which was not publicly announced, for the Honolulu Civil Beat. Hawaii’s Holomua Marine 30×30 initiative, first announced in 2016, aimed to conserve 30 percent of Hawaii’s waters by 2030, which aligned with the international 30×30 goal.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), led by Dawn Chang, revealed in a letter that they would be abandoning the 30×30 plan in response to the community’s concerns. Many have criticized the 30×30 plan as being too vague and its goals arbitrary. Confusion and fear from fishers is one reason the plan was scrapped, stemming from misinformation that the 30×30 plan “would entirely ban fishing across 30% of the state’s waters.” Additionally, Chang’s letter mentioned that there were concerns that 30 percent of Hawaii’s waters being managed was not enough, and the goal should be for 100 percent of Hawaii’s waters to be effectively managed and for the plan to be more holistic.

The DLNR held meetings where the plan was discussed, including the intentions for the initiative to be community-led and work closely with fishers and natives. The Hawaii Fishermen’s Alliance for Conservation and Tradition (HFACT) held its own meetings as well, where many fishers voiced these concerns. Chang’s letter states that Hawaii’s DLNR will pursue a different approach to managing waters, and will abandon rather than specify the 30×30 terminology and goals. Hawaii’s Holomua Marine 30×30 initiative is part of a larger global plan to protect biodiversity. The UN 30×30 target is to conserve 30 percent of all land and water. Countries that signed on do not have to conserve 30 percent of their land and water, although many created their own goals and legislature to reach this goal.

The US has a national goal of reaching 30×30; accordingly, President Biden signed an executive order during his first week in office as a means to combat climate change. Though Hawaii has abandoned its 30×30 target, other goals remain intact. The original Honolulu Civil Beat article that first reported the rollback was also republished by Grist. A later article from the Honolulu Civil Beat discussed the follow-up of the 30×30 plan, with citizens still wanting to protect waters, and an article from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that Biden still intends on creating a Marine sanctuary in the Pacific despite Hawaii’s cease of the 30×30. Although the global 30×30 initiative was initially covered by corporate media, including the New York Times and AP, as of March 30, 2023, there have been no corporate reports covering the abandonment of the plan.


Marcel Honore, “Hawaii’s Innovative Plan To Manage Marine Resources Is Being Quietly Rolled Back,” Honolulu Civil Beat and Grist, February 14, 2023.

Marina Starleaf Riker, “A Massive Effort To Manage Hawaii’s Nearshore Waters Just Launched On Maui,” Honolulu Civil Beat, November 3, 2022.

Mark Ladao, “Biden Wants Largest Marine Sanctuary in Pacific,” Honolulu Star – Advertiser, March 22, 2023.

Thomas Heaton, “Voters Support Nearshore Water Protection Despite State Scrapping 30×30 Goal, Polling Finds,” Honolulu Civil Beat, March 7, 2023.

“Statewide Fishing Organization Hosts Fishers’ Meetings on “Marine 30×30 Initiative,” Maui Now, October 4, 2022.

Student Researcher: Kathryn Carmichael (Drew University)
Faculty Evaluator: Lisa Lynch (Drew University)