Hawai’i’s coral reefs, which provide resources valued at over $10 billion, are threatened by the state’s growing population and thriving tourism industry. Both urban areas and popular tourist destinations are suffering from land-based sources of pollution, overfishing, recreational overuse, and aquatic invasive species. Despite these human stressors, many of Hawai’i’s coral reefs, particularly the remote ones, are still in good condition. CORAL is actively engaged in protecting Hawai’i’s reefs and helping them thrive.
CORAL has many exciting initiatives in Hawai’i designed to increase community awareness and stewardship of reefs, as well as to tackle local threats to the reefs. Our initiatives include the Clean Water for Reefs project in Puakō, helping establish Voluntary Standards for Marine Tourism in West Hawai’i, as well as our Hotel Reef Stewardship Project, which promotes sustainable tourism and reef stewardship within the state’s accommodations sector. We worked with a number of conservation partners to establish the successful education and awareness campaign, which is designed to eliminate the feeding of reef fish and the sale of fish food. More than 30 Hawai’i-based marine recreation businesses have pledged their support. CORAL and its partners have also created a series of educational interpretive signs. Local businesses and organizations can “adopt” a sign and fund its installation near heavily trafficked visitor areas.
One of our newer—but most critical—strategies is to work with the community to find solutions to local water pollution problems. For example, we are working with the Puakō community on Hawai’i Island through the Clean Water for Reefs project to address poor water quality coming from residential sewage leaching into the marine environment.