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Kahekili Marine Managed Area to hold birthday bash Saturday

By Staff | Jul 21, 2011

KAANAPALI — The Kaanapali Makai Watch program will host a birthday party and outreach event for the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area (KHFMA) on Saturday, July 23.

The event is set for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Kahekili Beach Park in Kaanapali.

July marks the second anniversary of the establishment of this innovative Marine Managed Area.

This family friendly event will feature activities, information and demonstrations throughout the day for residents and visitors alike.

Participants will learn about the coral reef ecosystem, water quality, fishing and the KHFMA, and opportunities to get more involved with the Kaanapali Makai Watch program and collaborating organizations and agencies.

There will also be a scavenger hunt with a coral reef and herbivore theme. Prizes will be distributed through a raffle of the participants.

According to Luna Kekoa, Kaanapali Makai Watch coordinator and NOAA Coral Fellow, “like a child of two years, this herbivore area needs support and care from the community to allow our precious resources to replenish and provide for our future generations.”

Liz Foote, Coral Reef Alliance field manager and Kaanapali Makai Watch co-coordinator, added, “It’s not every day that we throw a birthday party for a place. This particular place is special, and this event will be a great opportunity for people to learn more about the site, get involved with some citizen science efforts like reef surveys and water quality monitoring, and participate in some hands-on cultural activities like lauhala weaving and throw net practice.

“We’re also inviting anyone who is interested in volunteering with the Makai Watch program to come help out and observe at our reef education station, which could be the start of weekly or monthly opportunities to help with outreach onsite. Plus, it’s the 11th Great Annual Fish Count, so we’ll have materials on-hand and will train people how to do a REEF survey.

State Division of Aquatics Resources Special Projects Manager and Kaanapali Makai Watch Co-Coordinator Darla White oversees a community-based reef monitoring program in support of the KHFMA and regularly offers opportunities for volunteers to get involved and learn the survey methods.

Saturday’s event will be a chance for attendees to find out how they can help support local resource management and make a difference through citizen science.

White said the “Kahekili Herbivore FMA is the first-of-its-kind management strategy using fisheries management as a means to increase reef resiliency and reduce reef decline.

“This reef has seen a dramatic decline in coral over the past 15 years, but there is still hope for recovery. Herbivorous fish populations will increase naturally with the new protections and help to eat the algae that are out-competing corals in the face of high nutrient inputs into the area. These fish will also grow to be larger and more valuable reproducers, contributing exponentially more eggs with higher survivability to the local reefs.”

The Kaanapali Makai Watch program continues to seek volunteers to assist with general opportunities in biological and human use monitoring, as well as education and outreach. Contact Kekoa at edward.l.kekoa@hawaii.gov or Foote at Lfoote@coral.org, call 669-9062 or follow the program on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kaanapalimakaiwatch.