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Public invited to offer ideas for Kaanapali Makai Watch program

By Staff | Aug 5, 2010

LAHAINA — The Kaanapali Makai Watch program will hold a follow up meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 11, to seek more community input.

The meeting will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Lahaina Veterans’ Center at the top of Fleming Road in Lahaina.

On June 30, a meeting was held to introduce the community to the Kaanapali Makai Watch program and provide background and context surrounding this effort.

Sufficient time was not available to adequately facilitate the community “talk story” portion of the meeting, so the Aug. 11 session will focus entirely on this important component.

All community members who are interested in getting involved with the Kaanapali Makai Watch program are invited to attend this meeting to learn about what’s going on and what’s planned, and to provide their input to help shape the development of this program.

When asked about his role as point person and cultural liaison for the Kaanapali Makai Watch program, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coral Fellow Luna Kekoa said he was inspired by a lesson he learned at Ka‘ala Farms.

“If you plan for a year, plant kalo. If you plan for ten years, plant koa. If you plan for 100 years, teach the keiki aloha ‘aina,” he said.

“I think that it will help us focus and understand why we are protecting our resources in a sustainable manner.”

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

The Kaanapali Makai Watch program seeks to integrate with, and build upon, existing efforts that encompass these components.

The state is currently supporting the development of observation and compliance protocols for volunteers and will be coordinating 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 and 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.

On July 25, 2010, the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area (KHFMA) marked the one-year anniversary of the establishment of its rules.

Since that time, the Makai Watch coordination team and others have been working on education and outreach efforts to raise awareness about this new type of Marine Protected Area in North Kaanapali and its importance.

DLNR established the KHFMA to prohibit take of certain herbivorous fishes — such as surgeonfishes, parrotfishes and rudderfishes — and sea urchins, as well as to prohibit fish-feeding in the area.

Fishing for other types of fishes and invertebrates is still allowed in this area, which stretches 3,350 yards from Keka‘a (“Black Rock”) to Honokowai Beach Park.

This management effort has been a response to the fact that the reef at Kahekili 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. 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 and promoting resiliency of the system. Establishing this herbivore management area is an immediate management action that DLNR is using to intervene in the rapid coral reef degradation documented in the area.

Results of simple informal surveys of beach-going residents and visitors conducted within the KHFMA on its first anniversary indicate that more outreach and education are in order.

A total of 38 people were surveyed by volunteers. Twenty had heard of the KHFMA, and 18 hadn’t. Of the 20 who had heard of it, 15 were residents and five were visitors.

Of those who had heard of the KHFMA, only eight reported knowing where the boundaries are — all eight were residents.

About half of the respondents indicated that they knew the rules, and nearly 80 percent of the respondents knew what a “herbivore” was.

The final part of the survey included a “quiz” to visually identify examples of the herbivorous fishes and invertebrates protected in the KHFMA and distinguish them from those that may still be hunted.

Of those who took the quiz, one-third were able to correctly identify all the examples of herbivores, about 30 percent could identify some but not all, and the remaining 40 percent were unable to make the identifications and distinctions.

The establishment of the Kaanapali Makai Watch program seeks to engage more community members in this effort to raise awareness of this new protected area. It also intends to go above and beyond by mobilizing the community to take part in multiple interconnected efforts that promote stewardship and sustainability of nearshore marine resources in general.

This meeting will provide an opportunity for the community to get involved in various ways, whether one is an active or beginning volunteer, new or longtime resident, angler, formal or informal educator, student, business owner, staff from a Kaanapali-based hotel or any other stakeholder on Maui.

There is no obligation to volunteer; the coordination team simply seeks feedback and ideas to engage the community and provide fun and interesting ways for people to volunteer in support of this area.

The workshop will be conducted by Kekoa, Darla White of the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources and Liz Foote of Project S.E.A.-Link and the Coral Reef Alliance.

For information, visit www.facebook.com/kaanapalimakaiwatch or www.facebook.com/KHFMA.

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