Ridge to Reef Rendezvous and fishing tourney draws more than 250 people in Kaanapali
KAANAPALI – An estimated 250 people attended the Ridge to Reef Rendezvous at Kahekili Beach Park in North Kaanapali on Oct. 26. It’s an annual community celebration of ridge to reef environmental stewardship in West Maui, now in its landmark tenth year.
The event featured interactive outreach booths hosted by conservation partners working in West Maui, catch and release keiki and ‘ohana fishing tournament, K-12 art contest, haunted reef tour along with a “bleachapalooza” coral bleaching citizen science survey and an educational scavenger hunt with over $3,000 in donated prizes via random drawing for those who participated.
The event marks the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area (KHFMA) – a first-of-its-kind Marine Managed Area located in North Kaanapali.
What began as a small “birthday party” for the KHFMA has now expanded into a broader annual festival focused on ridge to reef conservation and community action.
This year, event organizers and West Maui Ridge to Reef conservation partners were honored to have Maui County Councilmember Kelly King attend the event. King not only met with all the groups, but she grabbed her mask and fins to join in on a snorkel tour of Kahekili Reef, a site of recent national interest due to an ongoing lawsuit over water quality and the injection wells that deliver millions of gallons of treated wastewater effluent – still rich in nutrients and consisting of fresh water – to Kahekili Reef, a marine ecosystem.
King is one of the five County Councilmembers who voted for the County of Maui to settle the lawsuit in order to keep it from being heard at the Supreme Court.
According to King, “Last weekend’s snorkel tour for the West Maui Ridge to Reef Initiative was the first time I ever participated in a snorkeling trip specifically to see a dead reef. The excursion was informative and eye-opening. It was uplifting to see so many community members concerned about the health of our reef and tourists, too! The council did the right thing by voting to settle the Lahaina Injection Well lawsuit so the county can focus on solutions to improve Maui’s water quality.”
The fourth annual Keiki and ‘Ohana Catch and Release Fishing Tournament was a big draw this year, with 53 young fishers entering from all across Maui.
The tournament was organized by Education Specialist Adam Wong of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Aquatic Resources, with the goal of not only promoting fishing and providing a fun activity for families, but conveying several key messages about the KHFMA and its unique rules protecting herbivores like uhu, manini, nenue and wana.
These herbivores are important to protect because they eat the algae (limu) that tends to overgrow the coral reef habitat when fueled by excess nutrients from land-based sources of pollution. A list of fishing tournament winners and photos from the tournament can be found on West Maui Kumuwai’s Facebook page and website.
Over a dozen conservation groups and state agencies were present to share a variety of engaging and interactive educational activities.
CORAL Maui Program Coordinator Larissa Treese said, “We were so excited to participate in this fun and educational event! At Coral Reef Alliance, we aim to work collaboratively with other organizations and communities to reduce threats to our coral reefs, with our main focus right now being sedimentation. Having kama’aina come out to learn about options and ideas they can then take home and utilize, and the excitement in their faces when they make the connection while learning at our table, is all the motivation we need to continue the much-needed work! Our next volunteer day is Saturday, November 9th, so come help us do restoration work on land to help the coral reefs by signing up at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
To see photos from the event or learn more about ridge to reef stewardship, visit West Maui Kumuwai’s Facebook page or its website at www.WestMauiKumuwai.org.