Ridge to Reef Event Draws Over 250 People
An estimated 250 people attended the 9th annual “Ridge to Reef Rendezvous,” a community celebration of ridge to reef environmental stewardship in West Maui at Kahekili Beach Park in North Kāʻanapali. The event featured interactive booths hosted by conservation partners working in West Maui, a catch and release keiki and ʻohana fishing tournament, a haunted reef tour, and an educational ‘scavenger hunt’ with over $3,000 in donated prizes.
This event originally started as a small-scale celebration of the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area, a marine managed area located in North Kā‘anapali, but has now become a festival focused on ridge to reef conservation and community action.
The State of Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Aquatic Resources was one of nearly 20 groups on hand to share about the 30×30 Initiative, an effort to effectively manage 30 percent of the state’s priority watersheds by the year 2030.
Pam Eaton, a Long-Range Planning Division Administrator with the County of Maui, said she appreciated the chance to hear from attendees about their vision for West Maui. “The Ridge to Reef Rendezvous is a great way for the community to learn about how daily activities, mauka to makai, can hurt or help our reefs,” Eaton said. “With the West Maui Community Plan process underway, we were excited to spend the morning talking with attendees about ways to plan our land uses wisely for the future to protect this vital resource.”
Event organizers also incorporated a Halloween theme to the event festivities since its date was so close to the holiday, featuring a ‘Haunted Reef,’ complete with eerie underwater ghosts and other creepy features. “We’ve been seeing a lot of scary things happening to our reefs in recent years, so a few irreverent skeleton parts and disembodied digits amongst the part of the reef that was once living finger coral is sadly a bit metaphorical,” Liz Foote, one of the event organizers, said.
Donna Brown, coordinator of the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College Marine Option Program, worked with some of her students to create the Haunted Reef. “While there are some super scary things happening to our reefs, there are still many solutions out there and reasons for optimism, and the Ridge to Reef Rendezvous has always been a way to share these with the community,” Brown said.
About 44 fishers from 28 families from all across Maui entered the eventʻs Keiki and ʻOhana Catch and Release Fishing Tournament. This free tournament combined the fun of fishing with information about the special characteristics of KHFMA that protect herbivores so they can grow and work as lawnmowers on the reef, helping strengthen the reef’s resilience.
Tournament organizers stressed that fishing and access is still allowed within the KHFMA, but its unique rules protect the herbivores like Uhu, Manini, Nenue, and Wana. Since the establishment of this area in 2009, scientists have noted that herbivore stocks are growing. Scientists have also recorded changes to this habitat that promote coral growth and survival.
The DOARʻs Education Specialist Adam Wong organized the tournament. “It gets better and better every year! This is a great opportunity to connect local Maui fishers with what’s happening on the management side, hear from them, and share how they can get involved,” Wong said. “They recognize how important it is to manage resources from mauka to makai and that doing this will better impact fishing for everyone.”
A list of tournament winners in all the categories, photos from the event, and more information about ridge to reef stewardship can be found on West Maui Kumuwai’s Facebook page.
Another mauka to makai stewardship event, an ocean-friendly car wash fundraiser for Lahainaluna High School, will be held on Saturday Nov. 17, from 9 a.m. to noon at Old Lahaina Lūʻau’s parking lot.