Fish Pono–Save Our Reefs promotes mindful fishing practices to protect coral reefs
A local ʻohana of like-minded ocean-lovers, scientists, watermen and women, and fishers announced the formation of Fish Pono–Save Our Reefs, an organization with the vision of bringing awareness to the importance of replenishing herbivore fish populations to foster healthy coral reefs.
Fish Pono believes that by living pono, in balance with nature, communities will ensure healthy reefs, abundant with life for future generations. When herbivores- our reef’s lawnmowers- such as uhu (parrotfish), nenue (chubs), manini, kala and other surgeonfish, and sea urchins are in low abundance, coral reefs are overgrown with seaweed and begin to suffocate and die.
These ever-important lawnmowers, especially the uhu, must be abundant and thriving for seaweed to remain in check, corals to survive and flourish, and beaches to get their essential, desperately needed sand (uhu poop sand).
Fish Pono TV and radio public service announcements feature well-known ocean enthusiasts, including ambassadors Nainoa Thompson from the Polynesian Voyaging Society, Dr. Randy Kosaki, research ecologist at the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, waterman and ocean safety expert Brian Keaulana, bodysurfing champion Mark Cunningham, and champion spear fisher Kimi Werner.
The public service announcements were filmed around Oʻahu and offer testimony of the importance of saving our uhu and our coral reefs. The TV and radio PSAs can be found at fishpono.org.
Fish Pono–Save Our Reefs encourages fishers to consider these important recommendations to help save Hawaiʻi’s reefs:
- Avoid taking many uhu that help keep reefs clean and thriving. Also avoid taking too many other herbivores like chubs, surgeonfish, and sea urchin that play their part in coral reef health as well.
- Fish only what you need to feed yourself and share with your immediate family. Fish for your table not the freezer. By taking only what you need and not what you can, this allows our fisheries to replenish.
- Pass on your knowledge. When you see someone taking too many fish vital for reef health, speak up and honor the opportunity to educate. It’s everyone’s kuleana to fish pono.
- Spread the word. Share how you #FishPono on social media and let your friends and family know about our threatened reef ecosystem. There’s no better way to make an impact than to become an active advocate yourself.
“As our islands and world oceans experience serious effects of climate change, including severe coral bleaching, a simple effort of giving uhu and other herbivore fishes a break, taking only what you need to feed your immediate family for that day, will save our coral reefs,” said Kosaki. “Herbivores allow corals to replenish and grow, and thus save our coastlines and coastal fishing for future generations. Scientists have found that uhu and surgeonfishes are particularly overfished, and highly populated islands like Oʻahu are at less than 5% of their original herbivore fish abundance.”
“Coral reefs are extremely valuable to Hawai‘i, providing subsistence and recreational fishing, coastal protection, surfable waves, tourism, medicines, and spiritual connection,” Kosaki added.