Leading with Science

Hawai'i Marine

Increased understanding of our dynamic oceans and coastlines is vital to restoring Hawai'i’s once thriving reefs and fisheries.

That’s why Conservancy scientists works to gather, apply, and share knowledge about Hawai'i’s marine resources in partnership with researchers, community groups, fishermen, and others committed to understanding and improving management of Hawai'i’s reefs and fisheries. 

Our coral reef and fish surveys help the State agencies and community groups pursuing collaborative management understand the health of their reefs and nearshore fisheries, and how they are changing over time. They also enable us to measure the impacts of management actions such as invasive species removal and fishery replenishment areas, and adapt them to changing conditions to ensure coral reefs and fish stocks are recovering. 

Our fish surveys are often done in collaboration with the University of Hawai'i’s Fisheries Ecology Research Lab, and the data we collect is managed in partnership with the Lab, allowing community, university, and government partners to compare the health of nearshore fisheries at more than 40 sites across the state. 

We also conduct research on factors that impact Hawai'i’s coral health and fish populations, including: 

  • Fish catch and human use surveys that record levels of harvesting and recreational use
  • Water quality assessments that help us understand how land-based pollutants impact marine life
  • The movement of fish larvae to ensure that management actions support natural replenishment patterns
  • The feasibility, cost, and implications of removing roi, a non-native grouper
  • The extent, severity, and potential to recover from coral bleaching caused by warming seas 

Engaging Citizen Scientists

Conservancy teams train community volunteers in the use of scientific monitoring protocols. The citizen scientists then put their newly acquired skills to use monitoring water quality and fish populations in their communities. The information they compile helps community groups and State agencies fill critical data gaps and develop and assess management activities.  

Together, we are improving our understanding and ability to manage Hawai'i’s reefs and fisheries so they can support healthy prosperous communities long into the future.


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