Herbivore protection and strong community support: will this be enough to increase fish biomass, decrease algal blooms, and enhance reef resilience?
Significant increases of invasive algae are seen as a major threat to West Maui’s coral reefs. At Kāʻanapali, red algal blooms had become much more abundant, likely as a result of elevated nutrients from wastewater and fertilizers. Despite the sources of land-based pollution, the increasing abundance of algae was exacerbated by the fact that there was a decrease in abundance of reef grazing herbivores. The State of Hawai‘i designated the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area in order to control the overabundance of marine algae on coral reefs and restore the marine ecosystem back to a healthy balance. Public awareness has increased, but we’re still waiting to see if the management plan restores health to the reef. Read more in the Kahekili case study.