Hawai'i’s coral reefs are among the most unique in the world, with a quarter of the fish and other reef species found nowhere else on Earth.
Today, the living reefs along our shores continue to provide habitat for important fisheries and protect us from storms and rising sea levels. They also support Hawai'i’s cultural traditions and island lifestyle, and generate more than $1 million a day through tourism and other commercial activities.
But the pressures of an increasing population and over 7 million visitors a year are straining reefs and fisheries. Impacts from overfishing, sedimentation, land-based pollution, and invasive species have contributed to a 40% decline in living coral reefs in some areas in the last 40 years, and a more than 75% decline in commercially important reef fish populations over the past century.
Fortunately, like other living things, Hawai'i’s reefs and fisheries can recover if the damage is not too severe and we take strong local action to minimize these pressures. That’s why:
- Our scientists conduct research and monitor coral reefs, fish, and water quality across the state, helping community and government partners assess the health and diversity of reefs and the effectiveness of their management efforts.
- We work with community and State partners to develop action plans, policies, and management strategies that blend science and traditional practice to protect and restore land and sea.
- Our teams support collective learning and action through networks of community groups working to improve the health of fishponds, coral reefs, and nearshore fisheries.
- We help prepare a new generation of conservation leaders by immersing them in real-world experiences so they can acquire the strength, skills, and confidence required for effective leadership.