Hawai’i Projects

The Short Story

In addition to our efforts to improve sustainability in the marine tourism sector, CORAL’s work in Hawai’i has included a number of initiatives to involve broader segments of the local community in coral reef conservation. We have helped develop online tools that facilitate and encourage citizen participation in reef monitoring, and have sponsored programs to educate and excite local youth about their coral reefs. Based on the success of the voluntary standards developed for the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, CORAL has also helped develop and implement voluntary standards in West Hawai’i. We have established the CORAL Reef Leadership Network to provide ongoing training for marine recreation providers, education programs for tourists, and increased protection for Marine Life Conservation Districts on Maui. Funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has allowed us to expand our projects along the coast of West Hawai’i.

Our newest initiative in Hawai’i involves tackling coastal water pollution. In Maui, treated wastewater has traditionally been routed into coastal injection wells, where it eventually leaches into the ocean. This treated wastewater (“graywater”) contains lots of nutrients, which affect the health of coral reefs. Corals thrive in clean, clear water low in nutrients. Water with high nutrient levels can fuel the growth of macroalgae (seaweed), which can overgrow coral reefs. We are working with our local partners in Maui to help hotels and resorts transition from using potable water to reclaimed wastewater to irrigate their landscaping and golf courses. Switching to graywater for these uses could reduce the amount of graywater that reaches ocean waters—and reefs—by hundreds of thousands of gallons of water each day. Our project in Maui may become a blueprint for other areas in Hawai’i and beyond. In 2013, we published guidelines for hotel and property managers who wish to participate: Recycled Water for Reefs/A Guide for West Maui’s Resorts and Condominium Properties.

More Progress in Hawai’i

Four voluntary standards for marine tourism were successfully balloted in West Hawai’i in the summer of 2009. The standards for SCUBA Diving and Snorkeling, General Boating, Wildlife Interactions, and Shoreline Activities are being implemented and evaluated. More »

CORAL has also developed the Coral Reef Monitoring Data Portal, which provides a one-stop shop for volunteers to enter data for a variety of community-based monitoring protocols. This online resource supports ongoing volunteer monitoring efforts while increasing public involvement, awareness, and a sense of stewardship around Hawai’i’s coral reefs and marine environment. Visit the monitoring portal »

CORAL worked with a number of conservation partners including the State of Hawai’i Division of Aquatic Resources and Project S.E.A.-Link to launch the successful Take a Bite out of Fish Feeding education and awareness campaign, which is designed to eliminate the feeding of reef fish and the sale of fish food. The campaign created an outpouring of support from local businesses and members of the community; and more than thirty Hawai’i-based marine recreation providers across the state have pledged their support. Furthermore, three of the state’s largest commercial retailers have agreed to discontinue the sale of snorkeling fish food in all of their stores across the state. CORAL’s members sent notes of thanks to these businesses to encourage their continued support of sustainable tourism practices. More »

CORAL and its many local partners have launched the Respecting Coral Reefs sign project. The interpretive signs, which are “adopted” by local businesses and placed in heavily-visited areas, teach visitors and residents alike how to respect and protect delicate coral reef ecosystems. The success of the sign project on Maui has led to its expansion throughout the state of Hawai’i. The environmentally responsible and informative signs are also available in a poster form for display by local businesses, organizations, and schools. More »

Examples of Progress
  • Successful balloting of voluntary standards in West Hawai’i
  • Creation of online citizen monitoring tools, including Hawai’i EcoTube and the Coral Reef Monitoring Data Portal
  • Development of new education and outreach tools
  • New collaborations created among local partners at project sites