CEO and Co-owner
Ashley Watts has lived in the islands of 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. Through pursuit of her degree, she also began working with local nonprofits whose kuleana is to encourage communities to malama their coastlines. She traveled to classrooms and businesses statewide increasing awareness on marine conservation and single-use plastics through presentations and interactive activities. Her desire to lead by example inspires her to live sustainably and seek out sustainable organizations to contribute her time. Any free time she has is spent in or around the ocean- surfing, diving, fishing, or just simply enjoying the salt air and sea.
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.
Advisor and Co-owner
Jason Philibotte is currently an International Specialist for NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program. Jason’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 under this program.
Previously, he was the Director of Conservation International’s Hawaii Fish Trust Program where he managed a yearly $2 million budget, developed the Hawaii Fish Trust’s long-term strategy and supervised the project’s implementation and staff.
Before joining Conservation International, Jason was 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.
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.
He served two years as a US Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines, helping artisanal fishers create marine protected areas and building marine resource management capacity. 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.
A social scientist by training, Dr. Kittinger has over 40 peer-reviewed publications on fisheries and ocean sustainability. He has broad interests in understanding and advancing sustainable solutions to complex problems that face society and the ocean environment.
A lifelong surfer and waterman with family ties to the coastal Carolinas, Jack completed his PhD at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2010, and has worked as a fishery consultant, a Fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Ocean Solutions, and Conservation International’s Hawaii program.