The Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area (KHFMA), was established in June 2009, and is designed to protect important herbivorous fish species and urchins. Why protect herbivores? Because they are the reef cleaners. If there is too much algae on a reef, it can smother and kill corals. Herbivores do an excellent job keeping algae in check.
The KHFMA stretches from Black Rock to the south end of Honokowai Park. Within these boundaries, rudderfish (nenue), parrotfish (uhu), and surgeonfish such as the convict tang (manini), and sea urchins are protected. Catching or gathering of these species is not permitted.
So, is it working, and how do we know if it’s working? Since 2008, before the creation of the KHFMA, this reef has been monitored. With the establishment of the KHFMA we’ve seen an increase in the numbers of herbivorous fish as well as an increase in their overall size. Fish sizes and numbers have also increased in the areas adjacent to the KHFMA, which means more fish for fishermen, and more food for predator fish like ulua which fishermen love to catch!
There are also promising signs of improved reef health, though it is still too soon to tell because coral takes many decades to grow. If fish size and numbers increase within the KHFMA they will continue to keep harmful algal blooms from occurring. That’s why more herbivores are mo’ bettah!
For more information, visit www.kahekilimarinereserve.com