New Hawaii Coral Reef Restoration – 193 Kilometers
A new Hawaii coral reef restoration initiative funded by Arizona State University (ASU) aims to regenerate and restore 193 kilometers of coral reefs.
What has Happened to Coral?
Over the past 50 years, the health of coral reefs has declined worldwide. This has resulted from anthropogenic factors, mainly overfishing, rising sea temperatures, and pollution.
This decline is catastrophic for our world’s ecosystems, as coral reefs are home to a wide variety of fish, shellfish, and underwater plants that each play their unique role in the ecosystem.
While this decline can be observed anywhere there are coral reefs; it has been quite noticeable in Hawaii, the island state off the mainland coast of the USA. This has been a serious issue for environmental groups, indigenous groups, and scientists, as the Hawaiian coral reefs play a major role in science and the area’s culture.
As a result, a new program called Ākoʻakoʻa, which means both “coral” and “to assemble,” is being implemented with the goal of Hawaii coral reef restoration of 193 kilometers of coral reefs off the coast of Hawaii’s Big Island.
How is Hawaii Coral Reef Restoration being done?
The program is being implemented through a combination of scientists and indigenous cultural leaders in Hawaii, as both stand to benefit from restoring these reefs.
Arizona State University is a major source of funding for the program, drawing on $25 million dollars to help the program. Greg Asner, the director of ASU’s Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science, will lead the effort to restore the reefs.
In 1998, he and a team of experts founded the Pacific Ridge to Reef Program, which uses high-tech satellite, airborne, and field technologies to diagnose land and reef problems.
In a statement, Asner said, “The new program further expands this diagnostic work, but it focuses far more effort on interventions that support Hawaii’s communities, both coral and human, as one force.”
While scientists are leading the program, the organizers have said they rely on traditional knowledge passed down by elders to aid them in their efforts.
Cindi Punihaole, a native Hawaiian who runs the Kohala Center, a community-based non-profit focused on education, research, and stewardship, said in a statement, “The land partner is to protect its ocean partner,” Punihaole said in a statement. “We are taught to ‘Mālama I Ka ʻĀina’ (caring for and respecting the land). When the land is healthy and clean water flows to the shores, then our corals and fish will flourish. We strive for a world of balance and righteousness.”
Regeneration is ongoing Worldwide
While Hawaii coral reef restoration programs are now in place, it isn’t the only place this is happening. Ecuador has discovered large deep underwater coral reefs that are currently being studied, which have since been protected under new laws passed by their government.
We must take serious measures worldwide to protect these unique and important ecosystems; they facilitate so much life and are a natural beauty for us to observe. While these pushes are showing considerable promise, more must be done to adequately address the causes of the demise in the first place.
Those are significant overhauls to regulations in fishing and industry. However, for the time being, it inspires hope to see that efforts are being made to address the issue.