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Our Team



Ashley Watts

Owner

Ashley Watts has lived on Hawai’i since 2007. She worked with the Pacific Islands Region Observer program for 7 years as a fisheries observer on the commercial long line vessels out of Honolulu and a port coordinator who placed the observers on the vessels. As a coordinator, she acted as a liason between the fisherman and NMFS for many years.

She is originally from a fishing family in Florida and has a B.S. in marine biology from the University of West Florida and a M.S. of Zoology from Miami University. Her focus as a master’s student was community engagement in marine conservation and as a project she created an informal educational program on marine ecology, conservation, and how we all can make a difference.

Prior to Local Iʻa, she fulfilled her culinary curiosities through work with Onopops, a local, organic popsicle company here on Oahu. The ingredients for the popsicle are sourced locally to support local agriculture with the same mindset as Local I’a, who sources seafood only from local fishers. Ashley is an active participant in marine conservation and has known since she was very young that she would have an integral role in protecting and preserving the marine world. Now as an owner and operator of Local Iʻa she feels empowered to scale sustainability and economic equality within the local fishing industry by sharing the story of the seafood with the consumer.

Jason Philibotte

Advisor

Jason Philibotte is currently an International Specialist for NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program. His’s responsibilities include coordinating NOAA’s International portfolio under the joint NOAA / USAID Participating Agency Partnership agreement and is Point of Contact for the Philippines and Indonesia.

He was also the Program Coordinator for NOAA’s International Marine Protected Area Capacity Building Program working closely with Indonesia’s Ministry of Marine Affairs and the Coral Triangle Support Partnership to develop MPA management capacity within Indonesia. Previously, he was the Director of Conservation International’s Hawaii Fish Trust Program where he developed the Hawaii Fish Trust’s long-term strategy and supervised the project’s implementation and staff.

Jason also worked with NOAA’s Habitat Conservation Division coordinating Hawaii’s multi-agency local action strategy for sustainable fisheries and with the Community Conservation Network as the Hawaii Program Manager, assisting local fishing communities manage their marine resources. Jason has a master degree in Marine Biology from the Boston University/Marine Biological Laboratory joint program in Woods Hole, MA and a BS in Marine Fisheries and aquaculture from the University of Rhode Island.

Jack Kittinger

Advisor

Dr. John N. ("Jack") Kittinger is the senior director of the Global Fisheries and Aquaculture Program in Conservation International's Center for Oceans. Under his leadership, CI works to protect biodiversity and improve the wellbeing of ocean-dependent communities by implementing sustainable fisheries and aquaculture solutions built on partnerships and investments from ocean to plate.

As a social scientist and marine ecologist by training, Dr. Kittinger takes a comprehensive interest in finding sustainable solutions to complex problems facing the ocean environment and the people who depend on it.

Jack has extensive experience coordinating multi-stakeholder teams and has worked as a consultant, a researcher, and a program director in the nonprofit sector. A lifelong surfer, fisher and waterman, with family ties to the coastal Carolinas, he is committed to ocean-based learning experiences and to being in the water as often as possible. He and his family live in Niu Valley, Hawaii.

Dez Cool

Web Developer

Dez travels the world practicing digital photography while helping his clients with their IT needs over the Internet and designing web sites. His mission is to connect businesses to their customers, and to assist in their reliance on technology.

As an IT professional specializing in technology development and support, with extensive experience in data management, web development, managed IT services, and hardware/software monitoring, he offers complete solutions for his business clients' needs.

He believes in user-centered design, and conducts usability testing whenever possible. He is a visitor advocate and will defend their interests with concrete evidence and research. He measures unique visitors, bounce rate, and conversion percentage. His goal is to generate leads, so these are the most important metrics. He uses an analytics tool to do this, and will show you how to track these measures as well.

Taylor Asao

Personnel Support

Taylor is a young professional seeking ways to engage humans with the environment; especially marine ecosystems. Her career in conservation began in Hawaii where she participated in a summer program called the Hawaii youth conservation corps. Her experiences in the field lead her to study environmental studies at The Evergreen State College, where she integrated her love for photography with hard sciences.

Kupu has played a pivotal role in allowing her to work for several environmental organization throughout Oahu (sea life park, Lyon arboretum, The nature conservancy). She continues her studies as a Master's student at Western State Colorado university in environmental management. Where she is learning how to navigate through the complexities and challenges in environmental work with best practices.

At Local I'a, she assists with operations and sales. She and Dez Cool collaborated to create Local I'a's website. She is also working on a project that is seeking to measure Local I'a's impact on Hawaii's fishery.

Ashley Watts

Owner

Ashley Watts has lived on Hawai’i since 2007. She worked with the Pacific Islands Region Observer program for 7 years as a fisheries observer on the commercial long line vessels out of Honolulu and a port coordinator who placed the observers on the vessels. As a coordinator, she acted as a liason between the fisherman and NMFS for many years.

She is originally from a fishing family in Florida and has a B.S. in marine biology from the University of West Florida and a M.S. of Zoology from Miami University. Her focus as a master’s student was community engagement in marine conservation and as a project she created an informal educational program on marine ecology, conservation, and how we all can make a difference.

Prior to Local Iʻa, she fulfilled her culinary curiosities through work with Onopops, a local, organic popsicle company here on Oahu. The ingredients for the popsicle are sourced locally to support local agriculture with the same mindset as Local I’a, who sources seafood only from local fishers. Ashley is an active participant in marine conservation and has known since she was very young that she would have an integral role in protecting and preserving the marine world. Now as an owner and operator of Local Iʻa she feels empowered to scale sustainability and economic equality within the local fishing industry by sharing the story of the seafood with the consumer.

Jason Philibotte

Advisor

Jason Philibotte is currently an International Specialist for NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program. His’s responsibilities include coordinating NOAA’s International portfolio under the joint NOAA / USAID Participating Agency Partnership agreement and is Point of Contact for the Philippines and Indonesia.

He was also the Program Coordinator for NOAA’s International Marine Protected Area Capacity Building Program working closely with Indonesia’s Ministry of Marine Affairs and the Coral Triangle Support Partnership to develop MPA management capacity within Indonesia. Previously, he was the Director of Conservation International’s Hawaii Fish Trust Program where he developed the Hawaii Fish Trust’s long-term strategy and supervised the project’s implementation and staff.

Jason also worked with NOAA’s Habitat Conservation Division coordinating Hawaii’s multi-agency local action strategy for sustainable fisheries and with the Community Conservation Network as the Hawaii Program Manager, assisting local fishing communities manage their marine resources. Jason has a master degree in Marine Biology from the Boston University/Marine Biological Laboratory joint program in Woods Hole, MA and a BS in Marine Fisheries and aquaculture from the University of Rhode Island.

Jack Kittinger

Advisor

Dr. John N. ("Jack") Kittinger is the senior director of the Global Fisheries and Aquaculture Program in Conservation International's Center for Oceans. Under his leadership, CI works to protect biodiversity and improve the wellbeing of ocean-dependent communities by implementing sustainable fisheries and aquaculture solutions built on partnerships and investments from ocean to plate.

As a social scientist and marine ecologist by training, Dr. Kittinger takes a comprehensive interest in finding sustainable solutions to complex problems facing the ocean environment and the people who depend on it.

Jack has extensive experience coordinating multi-stakeholder teams and has worked as a consultant, a researcher, and a program director in the nonprofit sector. A lifelong surfer, fisher and waterman, with family ties to the coastal Carolinas, he is committed to ocean-based learning experiences and to being in the water as often as possible. He and his family live in Niu Valley, Hawaii.

Dez Cool

Web Developer

Dez travels the world practicing digital photography while helping his clients with their IT needs over the Internet and designing web sites. His mission is to connect businesses to their customers, and to assist in their reliance on technology.

As an IT professional specializing in technology development and support, with extensive experience in data management, web development, managed IT services, and hardware/software monitoring, he offers complete solutions for his business clients' needs.

He believes in user-centered design, and conducts usability testing whenever possible. He is a visitor advocate and will defend their interests with concrete evidence and research. He measures unique visitors, bounce rate, and conversion percentage. His goal is to generate leads, so these are the most important metrics. He uses an analytics tool to do this, and will show you how to track these measures as well.

Taylor Asao

Personnel Support

Taylor is a young professional seeking ways to engage humans with the environment; especially marine ecosystems. Her career in conservation began in Hawaii where she participated in a summer program called the Hawaii youth conservation corps. Her experiences in the field lead her to study environmental studies at The Evergreen State College, where she integrated her love for photography with hard sciences.

Kupu has played a pivotal role in allowing her to work for several environmental organization throughout Oahu (sea life park, Lyon arboretum, The nature conservancy). She continues her studies as a Master's student at Western State Colorado university in environmental management. Where she is learning how to navigate through the complexities and challenges in environmental work with best practices.

At Local I'a, she assists with operations and sales. She and Dez Cool collaborated to create Local I'a's website. She is also working on a project that is seeking to measure Local I'a's impact on Hawaii's fishery.