Maui News

State of Hawaiʻi Seeking Public Input on Proposed Fishing Rules for Reef Fish

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The State of Hawai’i is hosting three virtual public meetings in December 2021 about proposed changes to fishing rules for herbivorous reef fishes. Photo Courtesy: Department of Land and Natural Resources

The Hawaiʻi State Department of Land and Natural Resources is holding three virtual meetings in December to receive community input on proposed changes to statewide rules for select species of herbivorous reef fishes.

The proposed rule changes would protect coral reefs and contribute to food security, according to DLNR.

Coral reefs are intricate, sensitive ecosystems that are facing numerous threats on both the local and global scale. Healthy coral reefs are critical to the economy, as a natural and cultural resource, and as a sustainable source of food. One study estimated the nearshore fishery provides more than 7 million meals each year to Hawai‘i families. 


The herbivorous fish that live among the reefs primarily feed on algae or plant material, and include uhu (parrotfish), kala (Unicornfish), manini (Convict Tang), kole (Goldring Surgeonfish) and many others. By feeding on algae, herbivores maintain and prevent algal populations from overgrowing and overtaking marine organisms such as corals.

Keeping algae in balance also allows space for corals to settle and grow, contributing to reef recovery and resilience in the face of climate change and other threats. Herbivorous fish are critical to maintaining healthy reefs and to feed local communities.

To ensure health and safety and to increase opportunities for participation, DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources will hold three virtual scoping sessions to discuss the proposed rule amendments:  

  • Saturday, Dec. 11, 9 to 11 a.m. 
  • Monday, Dec. 13: Noon to 2 p.m. 
  • Wednesday Dec. 15, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. 

If you would like to participate, register here.

People also can participate and provide comments three additional ways: 

This initiative is part of a broader herbivore management strategy and is described in the recently released DAR Sustainable Herbivore Management Plan.  


Key actions in the plan include implementing both place-based and statewide regulations to promote sustainable fishing practices; enhancing monitoring efforts to track changes and evaluate effectiveness of management measures; and collaboration with partners to better address land-based impacts.  

For more information on herbivores and their importance to coral reefs, photos, mo‘olelo, life history information and recipes:

DAR also added a keiki corner to the website and just announced a coloring contest in English and Ōlelo Hawai‘i. Children can enter by Jan. 7, 2022 for a chance to win a gift card from a local fishing store:

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