State reviewing sea preserves
By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Science Writer
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources hopes to develop different types of "marine protected areas" to enhance the quality of Hawai'i's nearshore aquatic resources.
Advertiser library photo
Fishing is banned at Hanauma Bay, a Marine Life Conservation District. The park draws thousands of visitors a day for approved activities, including snorkeling, that foster the growth of aquatic life.
Advertiser library photo
"There's a lot of talk about marine protected areas, but a lot of people don't know what that is. The range goes all the way from people who are excited about it to people who are afraid of it," said Kimberly Lowe, an aquatic biologist with the department's Division of Aquatic Resources.
The agency has produced an educational pamphlet on the subject that will be available tomorrow on the agency's Web site, with printed copies distributed in tomorrow's edition of The Advertiser. It discusses what marine protected areas are, some of the ones already in place in Hawai'i, examples in foreign countries, the benefits and drawbacks of protected areas, and other features about them.
Lowe said the material is to help educate folks before the Division of Aquatic Resources later this year goes out on a statewide series of meetings to discuss marine protected areas with the public.
"We're trying to get people talking about it," Lowe said.
Learn more: www.state.hi.us/dlnr/dar
Hanauma Bay is an example of an underwater park where fishing is banned and fish viewing is promoted.
Department of Land and Natural Resources Chairman Peter Young says in the pamphlet that the review of marine protected areas may create a new framework in Hawai'i, in which some existing reserves may be placed in new categories.
The State's new pamphlet aims to educate the public on the many types of protected areas.
"Hawai'i's system of marine managed areas would benefit greatly from a re-evaluation in light of new information," the pamphlet says.
Some of that new information is that reef fish sometimes travel greater distances than anyone suspected. Fish-tagging studies have tracked a barracuda from O'ahu to Moloka'i, a mullet from Hilo Bay to Kealakekua, and a goatfish or weke normally considered faithful to a specific local area from Kane'ohe to Wai'anae.
Another fairly new piece of research shows that it may be far more important to protect the biggest fish rather than those just reaching sexual maturity. The pamphlet notes that a single 26-inch 'omilu a kind of jack produces 86 times more eggs than a fish half the length.
Reach Jan TenBruggencate at email@example.com or (808) 245-3074.