This article was originally published on British Ecological Society.


“The ocean off the west coast of Hawai‘i Island is home to vibrant coral reefs, fish, green sea turtles, spinner dolphins, whales, and manta rays. West Hawai‘i has the largest expanse of intact and actively growing coral reef in all of the main Hawaiian Islands. The wide array of ocean life makes west Hawai‘i incredibly important for marine biodiversity and human society.

The coastal ocean and coral reefs provide seafood, resources for tourism and recreation, protection from wave and storm impacts, and the preservation of cultural practices. But it is also particularly vulnerable to the pressures of an increasing population, coastal development, fishing, pollution, and climate change.

A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology provides a range of options to protect and restore this valuable marine ecosystem for the future. Scientists from NOAA’s Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, Hawai‘i Division of Aquatic Resources, and The Nature Conservancy evaluated different management scenarios for one specific area: Puakō, in west Hawai‘i. The scientists evaluated how different management strategies would benefit the coastal marine ecosystem and coral reef health.

The evaluation was based on key ecosystem services and indicators. Six different management scenarios were then assessed based on:

  • No change in current management
  • Reduced fishing
  • Reduced land-based pollution
  • No fishing of herbivores
  • Line-fishing only
  • Marine protected areas..”

Read on at: British Ecological Society.