The DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) is holding a series of virtual scoping meetings to compile community input on increasing the management of key herbivores on Hawaii’s coral reef.
Sea urchins and some fish species are critical for helping protect and restore the state’s coral reefs, which are facing serious threats due to warming oceans and coral bleaching. These reefs rely upon abundant populations of herbivores to remain healthy.
“Herbivores play a critical role in maintaining the delicate balance between coral and algae on reefs,” DLNR stated. “Herbivorous fish and urchins graze reefs to prevent them from becoming overgrown with algae.”
Additionally, herbivorous fish are a culturally important food source. Catching and eating these fish is a part of Hawai‘i’s local culture as well as an important contributor to the islands’ food security.
However, additional management through regulations is needed to help protect the balance on the reefs, DLNR states. By limiting the number and/or size of fish that are caught at one time, communities can benefit from more plentiful fish stocks in the future.
DLNR officials say there are many options that can be considered to increase protections for herbivores, which include gear regulations and time-area seasonal protections.
A series of virtual meetings will give people an opportunity to provide feedback on management options and help shape future herbivore protections. Click here for more information and to register for a meeting.
Virtual meetings will take place for Kauaʻi on Nov. 17 and Dec. 1 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
The public is encouraged to report fishing violations to 643-DLNR or via the free DLNRTip app.