Maui News

MOC Marine Institute Works to Restore Seven Damaged Reef Sites in Lahaina

June 8, 2021, 8:56 AM HST
* Updated June 8, 8:57 AM
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MOC Marine Institute Works to Restore Seven Damaged Reef Sites in Lahaina. PC: MOC Marine Institute

The Maui Ocean Center, Marine Institute’s coral restoration team coordinated an emergency response and restoration projects to save corals at seven different sites in Lahaina, recently damaged by commercial boat anchors. 
 
“Coral reefs are vital to Maui’s island community; they provide food, storm protection, habitat for nearshore fisheries, and support opportunities for recreation, such as snorkeling or surfing,” according to the MOCMI.

MOC Marine Institute Works to Restore Seven Damaged Reef Sites in Lahaina. PC: MOC Marine Institute

“The most significant threats to coral reefs in Hawaiʻi are from human activities, including physical damage from boat anchors,” said Dustin Paradis, MOC Marine Institute’s conservation coordinator. “When we learned of the damage, we knew that we had to take immediate action.”
 
MOCMI performs an initial assessment at each restoration location to photo-document the damage, determine which corals are best suited for immediate reattachment, and which corals will be transferred back to MOCMI’s coral lab in Māʻalaea. 

MOC Marine Institute Works to Restore Seven Damaged Reef Sites in Lahaina. PC: MOC Marine Institute

Once at the coral lab, coral fragments are photographed, assigned a unique identification number, treated for pests, then placed in a quarantine tank. MOCMI staff will reportedly return some of the healthier corals to the damage sites in the next few months. The remaining corals will be fast-grown in MOCMI’s lab over the next year and transplanted at the restoration site as larger colonies. 
 
“Physical damage to coral reefs from boating is completely preventable,” said Tommy Cutt, MOC Marine Institute’s executive director. “Our team is working on community-based initiatives focused on responsible boating practices to help prevent future harm to our reefs.”

MOC Marine Institute Works to Restore Seven Damaged Reef Sites in Lahaina. PC: MOC Marine Institute

The MOCMI offered the following tips for boaters who want to make a difference:

  • Wear polarized glasses to scout for shallow reefs and marine animals.
  • Familiarize yourself with reef locations.
  • Tie up to mooring balls instead of anchoring.If you must anchor, confirm that you are over sand. 
  • Check tides and weather before boating. 
MOC Marine Institute Works to Restore Seven Damaged Reef Sites in Lahaina. PC: MOC Marine Institute

MOC Marine Institute works in close partnership with DLNR Department of Aquatic Resources.

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*All coral restoration activities authorized under SAP 2021-53.

MOC Marine Institute Works to Restore Seven Damaged Reef Sites in Lahaina. PC: MOC Marine Institute

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