New report spells out dire state of Hawaiian coral reefs

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New report spells out dire state of Hawaiian coral reefs

November 04, 2017 - 09:50
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At a recent briefing with state lawmakers, it has been revealed that almost half of Hawaii's coral reefs were bleached during heat waves in 2014 and 2015.

Coral reef in Hawaiian waters.

According to new data released, during the heat waves of 2014 and 2015, nearly half of Hawaii's coral reefs were bleached.

Calling it an unprecedented situation for Hawaii’s marine life, scientists from the Nature Conservancy presented these findings to state lawmakers last Thursday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said that the bleaching affected 56 percent of the Big Island’s corals, as well as 44 percent along West Maui and 32 percent around Oahu.

According to the scientists, more is yet to come, in the form of more frequent and severe bleaching: "In the 2030s, 30 to 50 percent of the years will have major bleaching events in Hawaii," said Kuulei Rogers of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology.

As for fisheries, the outlook isn’t looking too good either. A report by the University of Hawaii revealed a 90 percent decline in overall catch from the last 100 years.

Describing the situation as overwhelming, Dr Alan Friedlander from the University of Hawaii said, “About 40 percent of the species will be classified as overfished. The correlations are more people, less fish.”

He added that expanding the marine reserves could help in the restoration of fish populations. In addition, he suggested that stricter enforcement and expanding reserves.

“Enforcement is quite low in Hawaii compared to most other states. So that would definitely improve the adherence to a lot of regulations and probably help restore the populations,” he said.

However, some fishermen at the briefing were opposed to more restrictions.

“Each fisherman should be concerned because it could be your backyard’s next where you lose your fishing grounds and it’s more than just losing your fishing grounds. It’s losing the ability to feed your families. That’s something that’s very important,” said Makani Christensen, from the Hunting, Farm and Fishing Association.

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