DLNR installs signs for new Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area
KAANAPALI — The state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) recently installed signs to mark the new Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area in Kaanapali.
Department aquatic biologists are offering educational outreach to the public, landowners and resort operations about the importance of adhering to new rules for this area.
Since July 2009, the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area from Keka‘a Point (Black Rock) to Honokowai Park has been under a new rule that prohibits taking certain herbivorous fishes — such as surgeonfishes, parrotfishes and rudderfishes — and sea urchins.
Studies by marine scientists have found that overgrowth of coral reefs by algae is a severe and growing problem in Hawaii.
Kaneohe Bay, Waikiki, Maunalua Bay and much of West and South Maui are all areas where previously healthy reefs have become largely dominated by algae.
DLNR noted that herbivorous fishes are essential to tropical reefs, because once established, algae prevent new coral from competing for space on reefs, converting coral-dominated habitats to algae-dominated habitats.
In short, maintaining healthy populations of herbivorous fishes on the world’s reefs is critical to reef conservation.
“Establishing this herbivore management area is an immediate management action that we are using to intervene in the rapid coral reef degradation that has been documented in this area,” said Laura H. Thielen, DLNR chair.
“We are testing this approach and asking the public’s cooperation, to confirm that protecting herbivores is one way to improve coral reef health by enhancing the ecological services — that is, control of algae — provided by herbivorous fish and urchins.”
For more information, visit www.hawaii.gov/dlnr/dar.