MAUI SHORELINE PROPOSED FOR PROTECTION AS KAHEKILI HERBIVORE FISHERIES MANAGEMENT AREA

January 30, 2009, 10:00 AM HST · Updated February 2, 10:50 AM
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(by Wendy OSHER © 2009)

A stretch of West Maui coastline is proposed for protection as a Herbivore Fisheries Management area. The nearshore waters from Keka’a Point near the Sheraton Resort to Honokowai Park to the north, are proposed for designation as the Kahekili management area. DLNR officials say the rule is intended to maintain the population of algae-eating fish and sea urchins that help to control overgrowth and degradation of coral reefs. Under the proposal, the take of surgeonfish, parrotfish, rudderfish and sea urchins would be prohibited.

Studies by marine scientists have found that overgrowth of coral reefs by algae is a severe and growing problem in Hawai`i. DLNR officials say Kane`ohe Bay, Waikiki, Maunalua Bay, and much of west and south Maui are all areas where previously healthy reefs have become largely dominated by algae.

Once established, researchers say algae prevent new coral from competing for space on reefs, transforming coral-dominated habitats to algae-dominated habitats. Researchers believe that maintaining healthy populations of herbivorous fishes on the coral reefs is critical to maintaining a reef’s biological diversity.

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By establishing an herbivore management area, DLNR hopes this management approach will resolve the algae problem, and intervene in rapid coral reef degradation that has been documented offshore of Maui’s north Ka`anapali Beach.

A public information meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 4, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.., followed by the public hearing from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Lahaina Civic Center, 1840 `Honoapiilani Highway, in Lahaina.

The proposed new administrative rule may be viewed and downloaded from the Division of Aquatic Resources website: www.hawaii.gov/dlnr/dar.

(Images Courtesy The Hawaii Coral Reef Initiative Research Program, NOAA & Celia Smith, May 2008 Progress Report and Report Figures)

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