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U.S. EPA, NRCS announce strategy to protect Hawai'i's coral reefs

Release Date: 4/5/2004
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, (808) 541-2711

Released Jointly by U.S. EPA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Hawai'i Department of Health, and Hawai'i Department of Land and Natural Resources

HONOLULU -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service have facilitated the development of a strategy with state and local partners that will reduce pollution impacts to coral reefs and improve coastal water quality in Hawai'i.

"This strategy will provide Hawai'i with a blueprint to protect coral reefs from the many sources of pollution," said Alexis Strauss, water division director of the U.S. EPA's Pacific Southwest Region. "The EPA will work with its partners to use our programs, authorities, and grants to protect reefs that are essential to the food supply, economy, culture, and shoreline protection of Hawai'i."

The Hawai'i Local Action Strategy will:
reduce pollution to improve coastal water quality and coral reef ecosystem health;
improve coordination between federal and state agencies, land managers and marine scientists;
improve knowledge of how land management affects coral reef health and;
increase awareness statewide of pollution prevention and control measures.

"Building on the ahupua'a concept, we believe the local action strategy will lead to a greater understanding that all things in the environment are connected. Responsible actions on our islands mean healthier coral reefs," said Lawrence T. Yamamoto, state conservationist of the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The strategy focuses on three priority ahupua'a, a native Hawaiian land unit that extends from the mountain tops to the coral reefs. These three ahupua'a are located in Honolua, Maui, Kawela to Kapualei on Molokai and Hanalei, Kauai. The action strategy complements existing local efforts within each ahupua'a.

The strategy identifies new actions that will reduce pollution and measure the health of the coral reef ecosystem within each ahupua'a. It also identifies potential sources of funding. The EPA, the NRCS and their partners expect that the results and experiences from work on the three priority ahupua'a will support and encourage similar efforts in the future.

Other partners involved in the strategy include, the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Hawai'i Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Hawai'i Department of Health, and the Hawai'i Coastal Zone Management Program.

"Hawai'i's continued participation in the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force has provided numerous opportunities to work on a variety of projects with all stakeholders at the table, and the state and federal agencies working synergistically to develop programs," said Peter Young, state Department of Land and Natural Resources chairperson and Hawai'i Governor Linda Lingle's designee to the task force. "The local action strategy for land-based sources of pollution is a good example of this collaborative effort. We look forward to continued support for Hawai'i's activities at the local and national level."

The Department of Land and Natural Resources is developing additional action strategies to address other to threats to reefs, such as, fishing, recreational overuse and misuse, a lack of public awareness to the threats to reefs and invasive alien species.

"Protecting reefs is part of the benefit we expect from DOH's greater efforts to reduce construction site runoff now and reduce polluted runoff over the long term," said Larry Lau, deputy director of the Hawai'i Department of Health. "We are increasing the number of compliance assistance seminars and enforcement actions as part of our efforts."

The local action strategy is part of a national effort of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force to address key threats to coral reefs. The task force is made up of federal, state and territorial representatives that meet regularly to improve and coordinate conservation of U.S. coral reefs.

The Hawai'i Coral Reef Local Action Strategy can be viewed by visiting the following website:

For questions, please email:
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