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Coordinators seek ideas for Kaanapali Makai Watch program

By Staff | Jun 24, 2010

Visitors and residents snorkel and swim at popular Pu‘u Keka‘a (Black Rock) in Kaanapali. This area is encompassed within the boundaries of the new Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area and will be part of the focus for education efforts in the Kaanapali Makai Watch program.

WEST MAUI — A new program will promote ocean education and monitoring along the Kaanapali coastline.

Organizers of the Kaanapali Makai Watch program seek community input and involvement as the effort gets off the ground.

The public is invited to a “talk story” meeting on the program from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 30, at Lahaina Civic Center.

The statewide Makai Watch program consists of three components: education and outreach, monitoring, and observation/voluntary compliance.

Liz Foote of Project S.E.A.-Link and the Coral Reef Alliance explained that the Kaanapali Makai Watch program seeks to integrate with, and build upon, existing efforts that encompass these components, such as the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary’s education station at Whalers Village and the Division of Aquatic Resources’ Herbivore Enhancement Area in-water surveys.

“This program will provide opportunities for everyone to get involved. Everyone is a stakeholder,” said Foote.

“Volunteers will have many fun and exciting projects to choose from, whether their interest is talking to visitors, engaging local fishers, working with K-12 students, recording data in or out of the water or simply devising creative outreach strategies in support of this area.

“We also hope to enlist the private sector businesses surrounding the Kaanapali region, particularly the hotels fronting the ocean. In addition, there are already a lot of wonderful community initiatives underway in the area, and we hope the Makai Watch program can serve to inter-link, enhance and expand upon these efforts.”

The state is helping to develop observation and compliance protocols for volunteers and will coordinate Department of Land & Natural Resources-assisted training sessions for current Makai Watch groups later in the year.     In the meantime, efforts will focus on education, outreach and various types of community-based monitoring — including biological and human use protocols — while stakeholder coordination efforts are carried out in association with ongoing state and federal initiatives.

Attend Wednesday’s meeting to learn what’s already underway, what is planned and how to get involved, and help the coordination team scope out other aspects of the program.

Workshop presenters will include Luna Kekoa and Darla White of the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources, Foote, Tamara Paltin of Save Honolua Coalition and Robin Knox of Aquanimity Now.

One significant objective of the Kaanapali Makai Watch program is to raise awareness of the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area (KHFMA), a new type of Marine Protected Area. Rules went into effect in July 2009.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) established the KHFMA at North Kaanapali near Kahekili Beach Park, where take of certain herbivorous fishes (including surgeonfishes, parrotfishes and rudderfishes) and sea urchins, as well as fish-feeding, are prohibited.

According to Darla White, special projects manager for the Division of Aquatic Resources, “the community can kokua by supporting these rules for the health and longevity of Maui’s reefs.”

During the workshop, White will present an introduction to the KHFMA, including an overview and background, its rules and boundaries, and the supporting science and ongoing research in the area.

The workshop will also include a “take action” component focused on efforts that are available to join now.

Save Honolua Coalition will take the opportunity to debut a new program focused on community-based water quality monitoring efforts.

Paltin, the coalition’s president, said, “Please join us as the Save Honolua Coalition launches its Turbidity Task Force program to monitor and report water quality at Honolua and other sites around Maui in an effort to get the EPA to enforce existing water quality standards as set forth by the Clean Water Act.  

“Are you frustrated by poor water quality and runoff at Honolua Bay and other sites? Become a part of the solution by monitoring and reporting water quality with easy to use, free reusable kits provided to the community by a grant written by the Save Honolua Coalition through the Coral Reef Alliance. If you are concerned about water quality, it’s the least you can do.”

There is no obligation to volunteer by attending the meeting. The Makai Watch coordination team wants feedback and seeks help to brainstorm approaches and methods for engaging the community and providing fun and interesting ways for people to volunteer.

During the workshop, Paltin and Knox will lead “Take Action NOW: Update/Overview of Turbidity Task Force.” They will discuss how to help Honolua and all West Maui sites, water quality issues, the role of “Citizen Science” and materials involved.

Next, White will offer an introduction to the KHFMA.

According to DLNR, the reef at Kahekili Beach shows signs of stress with seasonal invasive algal blooms and rapidly decreasing coral cover.

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 West and South Maui are all areas where previously healthy reefs have become largely dominated by algae.

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 algal-dominated habitats.

Maintaining healthy populations of herbivorous fishes on the world’s reefs is critical to reef conservation, DLNR reported. Establishing this herbivore management area is an immediate management action DLNR is using to intervene in the rapid coral reef degradation documented in the area.

Kekoa will share information on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s “Coral Fellow Role and Responsibility, including an overview of projects and how to get involved.

Foote will conclude the workshop with “Kaanapali Makai Watch program — Overview and Brainstorming.” She will discuss why Kaanapali was selected and existing and planned activities.

Refreshments will be served. Register by contacting Foote at 669-9062 or Lfoote@hawaii.rr.com.

Follow the programs on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kaanapalimakaiwatch and www.facebook.com/KHFMA.