State wants to add new fishing restrictions to keep coral reefs healthy

We’ve been following the state’s efforts to save coral from bleaching, and on Thursday, we learned that within the past few months, there’s been a 97 percent recovery in Kaneohe Bay.

And while the state wants to add new restrictions to make sure the coral stays healthy, that could mean big changes for island fishermen.

The restrictions will not happen overnight, but the state is hopeful that we could start seeing some changes within the next six months.

The coral in Kaneohe Bay is recovering and regrowing, but to keep it healthy, the state wants to establish fully protected marine areas, specifically places where no fishing would be allowed.

The areas considered priority locations besides Kaneohe Bay are West Hawaii, West Maui, and North Kauai.

The state also wants to control the fishing of herbivores that eat the coral-smothering algae by restricting the number of parrot fish or uhu a fisherman can catch.

Sea urchins have also been placed by the state has been keeping the algae at bay. For this reason, the state is also considering banning people from taking of sea urchins.

It also wants to restrict the use of lay gill nets near the shore and spearfishing at night.

Some fishermen, however, believe this is too much regulation. “I guess you have to have rules and stuff like that, but some of it gets a bit ridiculous,” said Kevin Wilshire.

On the other hand, Dr. Eric Conklin, director of marine science for the Nature Conservancy, said “unless we figure out how we can manage our reefs better, we will see more and more coral mortality. When the corals die, the reef dies, and all of the value these reefs provide the people of Hawaii will be lost.”

But before any restrictions are put in place by the state, the public will be allowed to have a say on the proposed rules. Public hearings will be held at the later date.

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