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New events at ‘Ridge to Reef Rendezvous’ will educate community on pono fishing practices

By Staff | Jul 16, 2015

At the “Ridge to Reef Rendezvous,” the public can meet scientists working to protect the ocean in West Maui and learn how to get involved in local environmental efforts.

KAANAPALI – This year’s “Ridge to Reef Rendezvous” on July 25 at Kahekili Beach Park will educate anglers and the community about pono fishing practices with two new activities: a catch-and-release Papio Fishing Tournament and Sanctuary Classic.

The Sanctuary Classic – a summer-long, fishing-themed photo competition – is intended to help share knowledge about safe and responsible fishing practices.

At the “Ridge to Reef Rendezvous,” keiki can play fun games to learn about sustainable fishing practices, and everyone can go on a reef tour, talk story with any of the organizations under the conservation hui tent and participate in the fishing tournament to put these lessons to practice.

The papio fishing tournament will have great prizes, and all entrants will have the opportunity to win additional prizes through a random drawing.

There will also be free giveaways of hats and T-shirts for those who arrive early enough (supplies are limited).

Check-in will be held at Kahekili Beach Park at 8 a.m. sharp, the tournament will run from 8:15 to 11 a.m., and awards will be presented at 11:30 a.m.

For more information, visit the Kaanapali Makai Watch Facebook page at www.facebook.com/KaanapaliMakaiWatch, e-mail KaanapaliMakaiWatch@gmail.com or call (808) 283-1631.

Kahekili Beach Park (Old Airport Beach) in North Kaanapali exists within a watershed where an extensive array of federal, state and local agencies and conservation groups are working together to find effective ways to reduce land-based impacts to reefs.

According to Kaanapali Makai Watch, this particular reef has had a history of overwhelming limu (algae, or seaweed) growth fueled by land-based pollution carrying nutrients such as nitrogen, which essentially serves as fertilizer, to the reef.

Efforts are being made on land to control runoff through the West Maui Ridge to Reef Initiative, while the state Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) is focusing its energy to control the harmful algal growth that occurs on the reef through fisheries management.

Their strategy is simple: let the herbivores do all the work.

Herbivores, or exclusively limu-eaters, play an important role in keeping algal growth under control. This management strategy in its entirety is to protect the reef from the impacts of land-based pollution and overfishing pressure.

The Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area (KHMFA) was launched in 2009. Under KHFMA rules, it is illegal to take any herbivorous species, such as parrotfishes (uhu), surgeonfishes (kole or manini), rudderfishes (nenue or chubs) and urchins (wana), and fish feeding is prohibited.

Fishing for other species, like papio, is allowed and encouraged, however.

According to Kaanapali Makai Watch, in its six-year existence, the KHFMA has shown an increase in the amount of surgeonfishes, parrotfishes and crustose coralline algae that is important for cementing the reef and creating a landing pad for new coral to settle, and the coral decline has leveled off.

Efforts appear to be working, but resource managers are quick to point out that this area is still in its early stages. In order for the KHFMA to meet its goal – improve the reef’s health – community support, awareness and compliance with its rules are critical.