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Posted on Dec 7, 2021 in Latest Department News, Newsroom

(HONOLULU) – 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. Effectively managing herbivorous fish contributes to food security and the protection of coral reefs.

This month, the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) is holding a series of scoping events to receive community input on proposed amendments to statewide rules for select species of herbivorous reef fishes.

To ensure health and safety and to increase opportunities for participation, DAR will have three virtual scoping sessions to discuss the proposed rule amendments.

Zoom Scoping Sessions 

  • Saturday, December 11: 9-11 a.m.
  • Monday, December 13: 12-2 p.m.
  • Wednesday December 15: 5:30-7:30 p.m.

If you would like to participate, please register:

People can also participate and provide comments three additional ways:

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:

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

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.

Visit the Holomua website: to read the plan and for more information on coral reefs, herbivores and the importance of the Sustainable Herbivore Management Plan.

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(All images/video courtesy: DLNR)

HD video: Hawai‘i reef:

Photographs: herbivorous reef fishes:

Media Contact: 

Dan Dennison

Senior Communications Manager

Hawai’i Dept. of Land and Natural Resources

[email protected]