Group pushes for closer look at impacts to one of Oahu’s top tourist destinations

Hanauma Bay is one of Oahu’s most popular tourist destinations with thousands of visitors a day.

What impact is that having on the nature preserve?

The group Friends of Hanauma Bay says there’s no clear picture.

From the way chemicals in sunscreen interact with marine life to levels of toxins in the sand, Friends of Hanauma Bay president Lisa Bishop says conservation of the bay is a big concern.

The last in-depth study of the bay was commissioned by the city 16 years ago. With around 3,000 visitors coming to the bay each day for over a decade, what affect is this having on one of Oahu’s most popular destinations?

“(This year) marks the 50th anniversary of Hanauma Bay being established as the first marine life conservation district. The Friends of Hanauma Bay has some concerns about the amount of preservation and conservation that is ongoing at Hanauma Bay,” she said.

Bishop says her group has been working with the DLNR to get the city to commission yearly studies about human effects on the health of Hanauma Bay.

“Initially the city was only going to do one carrying capacity study, but now they say they are in fact going to do it on annual basis,” Bishop said.

The city is finalizing plans with the University of Hawaii to begin conducting yearly studies on the bay. They would review new and past data, monitor coral conditions, and make recommendations about bay capacity.

Bishop hopes the years of not collecting data don’t have a lasting effect on the bay’s future.

“It is a win for everybody to finally get the carrying capacity study started,” Bishop said. “Because there has been a 16-year gap, they probably will not be able to compare the data collected this first year to the data collected 16 years ago.”

The Honolulu City Council will meet Tuesday to discuss what happens next.

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