The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has completed a voluntary management plant to fight the damage caused by pollutants on Maui reefs along the Kaanapali coast. According to a report in the Lahaina News, the administration plan involves the community and details specific actions that the local government, private sector and community members can follow to help reduce pollution that has had a negative effect on the island’s coral reefs. The Wahikuli-Honokowai Watershed Management Plan is the first of its kind in Hawaii that addresses how runoff from the aina, or land, is affecting the health of the reefs. According to the report, close to one-quarter of the corals located on the west side of Maui have died off due to pollutant damage such as agricultural runoff, injected well effluent, and untreated storm water.
“A big part of the problem is what is flowing off the land into the sea,” Kathy Chaston, project manager with NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program told the paper. “Our team looked mauka, inland, to identify major pollutant types and their sources, and then developed actions to reduce them.”
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Among the action items the local community can take to reduce the effects of pollution on the reefs include conserving water, refraining from pouring chemicals down the drain, and keeping debris and soil out of storm drains. The government and private sector will work on such projects as agricultural road improvements, gulch stabilization and post-fire rehabilitation planning to help prevent pollutants from entering the ocean.
Coral reefs in Hawaii have been under assault for several years from a range of factors, human and natural. In Kaneohe Bay on the island of Oahu, an outbreak of Montipora White Syndrome has killed 198 colonies of rice corals since the disease was first discovered in 2010 and the disease is so deadly that it can kill a 20-year-old coral in just two weeks. Last year on Maui, the Army Corps. of Engineers and the Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources initiated a program to help reduce the flow of urban runoff into the ocean. NOAA also gave the state $2.8 million for coral reef protection in 2012.