National Meeting on Coral Reef Issues Comes to Maui
By Wendy Osher
A national meeting to address coral reef issues will be held on Maui next week.
The US Coral Reef Task Force will gather for their 32nd meeting, scheduled to take place from Sept. 8 to 12 at the Westin Maui Resort in Kāʻanapali.
The group is being hosted by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, and will participate in agenda items that include a site visit to the Kahekili Herbivore Management Area for a reef survey.
Other site visits will focus on Maui cultural lands, impacts of land-based pollution on coral reefs, dynamics and issues affecting West Maui watersheds, and a reef cleanup project in Olowalu.
Participants will also discuss issues of national interest, propose new actions, and present information on the progress of efforts to restore and protect coral reef ecosystems during a formal business meeting on Sept. 11.
“Kāʻanapali, Maui, was chosen as the meeting location for its national and local significance,” said DLNR Chair and USCRTF member William J. Aila, Jr. in an agency press release. “DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources identified this region as a priority management area and, in 2009, established the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area to legally protect herbivores and promote coral reef recovery.”
The Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area was established to maintain the population of algae-eating fish and sea urchins that help to control overgrowth and degradation of coral reefs. State guidelines now prohibit the take of surgeonfish, parrotfish, rudderfish and sea urchins.
The protected area extends along nearshore waters from Kekaʻa Point near the Sheraton Resort to Honokōwai Park to the north.
The US Coral Reef Task Force was established in 1998 by Presidential Executive Order to lead national efforts to preserve and protect coral reef ecosystems, according to the agency website.
West Maui was designated by the USCRTF as a priority watershed partnership in 2011, according to information compiled by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Department officials say the designation leverages resources to reduce land-based pollution in the area, a factor that has been identified as a key source of coral reef decline.
The public will have an opportunity to participate in a public comment period during the business meeting between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 11 in the Haleakalā Ballroom.