Target: Governor of Hawaii, Neil Abercrombie
Goal: Protect the coral reefs and their marine wildlife from overfishing and commercial harvesting.
Hawaii’s coral reefs are famous for their beauty and for the sea creatures that inhabit them. Unfortunately, if immediate action is not taken the coral reefs and the animals that depend on them could be gone. Coral reefs across the world are in danger due to climate change and pollution. However, the Hawaiin coral reefs are have the added threat of overfishing and commercial harvesting. There has been a steady decline in the Hawaiian coral reef ecosystems. Seventy five percent of fish species in Hawaii are in critical condition. Marine Scientists and conservation groups have called on the Hawaiian government to better protect the Hawaiian reefs.
Currently in Hawaii there are 38 marine protected areas which only make up 4 percent of the state’s near shore waters. In only 89.5 percent of Hawaii’s near shore waters is fishing restricted. Kauai has no protected areas even though there is an ancient barrier reef with the only Acropora coral there. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources does not strongly enforce restrictions on the small areas that are protected. Many fishermen say that they are against the protected areas because they do not want to give up any areas to fish. Yet studies have shown that protected near shore areas actually enhance fish populations. Hawaii is behind other Pacific regions in protecting its coastal waters. Most Pacific regions have a much higher percentage of protected areas. Conservation groups have called for additional protected areas, where no fishing would be allowed. The current protected areas were made as needed which is not sufficient. There needs to be a master plan of what areas should be protected. Scientists have recommended that the state expand protected areas to at least 20 percent of near shore water.
Overfishing and commercial harvesting is the main threat to the reefs. Aquarium collectors hurt reefs because the fish they collect each have a unique function in the coral ecosystem. For example, some fish help control algae growth on the coral. When the diversity of reef fish decreases it poorly affects the reef’s ability to deal with stresses and threats. There is currently no limit to the amount of permits the Department of Land and Natural Resources can issue for aquarium collecting. There is also no limit on the amount of fish an aquarium collector can collect. Hawaii is seeing an increasing number of collectors. The state has not done enough conservation planning. Groups have asked the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources to seriously examine the negative affect unlimited aquarium collecting is having on the coral reefs.
Tell the Governor of Hawaii to take immediate action to protect the coral reefs and the animals that depend on them.
Dear Governor Neil Abercrombie,
Hawaii’s famous beautiful coral reefs and the animals that depend on them are facing threats. Inadequate protection and overfishing are leading to a decline in the coral reef ecosystems. Currently, 75 percent of Hawaii’s fish species are in critical threat of being endangered.
I am writing you today to ask you to take immediate action. Only four percent of Hawaii’s near shore waters are protected. I am asking that you put a plan in place to expand that to at least twenty percent. Studies have shown that protected areas increase fish populations, which would benefit fishers.
I am also asking that you work with Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources to study the negative affects aquarium collecting has had on coral reefs ecosystems. Studies have shown that the reduction of reef fish significantly harm the coral. I ask that you put a limit on the amount of permits for aquarium collecting as well as a limit on the number of animals that can be collected.
Please take immediate action in protecting one of Hawaii’s greatest beauties, the coral reef.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: NOAA’s National Ocean Service via Flickr