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Coral reefs under stress: Solutions and how you can help

Posted on Mar 29, 2017 in Capitol Connection, Featured
snorkeler in the water


At the recent NGA conference, Governor Ige was the first state governor to attend a meeting of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force. “We have to take bold, meaningful action if future generations are to benefit from this resource,” said the governor. “In our Sustainable Hawai‘i Initiative, we have committed to effectively managing 30 percent of our nearshore ocean waters by 2030. This means managing human activity. The ultimate goal of effective marine management is to ensure healthy reefs for all — whether you’re a diver, fisher, surfer or someone who just enjoys being outdoors.”

What is coral bleaching and why should we be concerned? Coral reefs are vital to island communities like Hawai‘i. When corals experience stress from conditions such as global warming, they expel the algae living in their tissues — causing the coral to turn white. “Coral bleaching in some parts of Hawai‘i is unprecedented in recorded history, placing our corals at much greater risk of dying,” said Dr. Bruce Anderson, DLNR division of aquatic resources administrator. “We need to ensure our reefs are as healthy as possible.”

Solutions to make progress: The state has developed a comprehensive coral bleaching recovery plan that targets four priority areas: West Hawai‘i, West Maui, Kāneʻohe Bay and North Kaua‘i. These areas were chosen because they were exposed to the most severe thermal stress during 2014 and 2015.

How you can help: Every Hawai‘i resident and visitor can help take care of our reefs. This includes conserving water to reduce runoff, disposing of trash carefully, avoiding harm to coral while swimming and fishing, and not using sunscreen with oxybenzone, if possible.


Read more in our April issue