Council Member Profiles
Reserve Advisory Council member profile
2012 – present
"It is gratifying that so many individuals and organizations with such diverse backgrounds and missions care so passionately about the Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve."
– Judith Cucco, Citizen-at-Large (formerly Conservation Alternate)
Q: What drew you to participate in the NWHI Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory Council?
A: I wanted to learn more about this remote and pristine reserve and to help safeguard it in any way I could. It fascinates me that there is a remote place where nature, culture and history have been protected by presidents of both parties for more than 100 years.
Q: What are your personal thoughts on the place and why it deserves such dedicated protection?
A: I believe that we need to protect the full range and diversity of resources and habitats found throughout the reserve by limiting consumptive activities, while continuing to allow activities that are compatible with resource protection and Native Hawaiian cultural practices. This will provide the opportunity for the reserve to evolve in a natural state, with a minimum of human influence.
Q: What do you see as the Reserve Advisory Council’s greatest achievement during the time you have been directly involved?
A: Our role in supporting the Office of Hawaiian Affairs as a co-trustee and supporting the expansion of Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.
Q: As a member of the council, what is one of your most memorable experiences?
A: I enjoy bringing the place to the people by sharing what I learn at the council meetings at community outreach events.
Q: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the council and/or monument today?
A: The threat that some protections could be removed, the lack of a dedicated research vessel, invasive algae at Pearl and Hermes atoll, and the cancelation of the summer 2020 field season.
Q: Why should people care about protecting the monument?
A: The monument is one of the very rare places on earth with a healthy, intact ecosystem. Not only is it one of a few mixed (natural and cultural) UN World Heritage sites in the world, but it has also been designated as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area by the UN. Additionally, it is a place of historical and archaeological significance.
Judith Cucco is a retired educator, international product manager and social worker.