The biodiversity of the world’s oceans faces many threats such as climate change, invasive species, and more. President Joe Biden’s administration selected Kawika Winter, biocultural ecologist at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) and director of the Heʻeia National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR), to serve on the Ocean Research Advisory Panel (ORAP), which provides independent recommendations to the federal government on matters of ocean policy.
Winter and 17 other members were selected by a public nomination process facilitated by the Ocean Policy Committee and then appointed by the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the chair of the Council on Environmental Quality. Members of ORAP represent the views of ocean industries, state, tribal, territorial or local governments and academia. They began their appointment on August 1 and will serve for three years.
“America has a long history of inflicting injustices on Indigenous Peoples. The Biden Administration, however, represents a major shift in this history by elevating Indigenous Knowledge (IK) through its memos regarding the incorporation of IK into research, policy and decision making,” said Winter. “However, it takes more than memos to bring about institutional change. We need IK advocates in decision-making positions to bring to fruition the changes that this administration is calling for. My goal is to use my lived and professional experiences to help the Biden Administration translate Indigenous wisdom into policy.”
Winter is an assistant professor whose primary appointment is with HIMB managing the Heʻeia NERR. His other appointments at UH Mānoa include life sciences (botany) and natural resources and environmental management. Winter earned his bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees in botany from UH Mānoa.
According to Winter, the Heʻeia NERR is one of the nation’s leading models for the integration of Indigenous knowledge in research, policy and decision making. Since its designation in 2017, this NERR has become one of the best examples of how NOAA can be responsive to the needs of Indigenous Peoples through collaborative management and collaborative research. His own research is focused on understanding the ecological foundations of Indigenous resource management.