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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, October 4, 2002

We're nothing without healthy reefs, ocean

If there's a natural asset we like to brag about in Hawai'i, it's the ocean waters and coral reefs that make for world-class surfing and diving.

But beneath the postcard-from-paradise veneer, our marine resources have apparently been deteriorating for decades.

According to the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, the world's oceans are in deep trouble. They say pollution caused by farmland and urban runoff is increasing around shorelines and destroying coral reefs.

There's no reason to believe Hawai'i would be any less affected by this. We imagine that overfishing and the cruise industry haven't helped.

Federal and state laws intended to protect marine life are administered by a tangle of agencies and often conflict. The commission suggests the bureaucracy be untangled and consolidated, and we agree.

Plus, we suggest the government and various marine science programs join forces to heal the damage done to our oceans and reefs. Right now, for example, researchers at Nova Southeastern University in Florida have created a coral nursery to repair South Florida's bleached reefs.

It's slow going. Coral grows only one-quarter to one-half centimeter a year. But at least it's a start and something University of Hawai'i oceanographers might want to pursue.