Poll: Most voters support managing fisheries, coastal areas
In a survey of 900 people, 90% of respondents support restoring the health of nearshore areas and coral reefs.
The survey from The Nature Conservancy found 88% support limiting fishing in specific areas to allow fish populations to recover.
More than 80% support both limiting fishing in specific areas, and giving communities a clear role in management efforts.
Voter's concerns about coral reefs and fisheries parallel years of declining fishery populations and coral loss.
Populations of Hawaiʻi’s most important fish species have declined by 90% since the early 1900s.
A 2012 report revealed that over the last several decades, some places in Hawai‘i have lost up to 60% of their coral cover, which is essential for creating habitat for healthy fish populations.
Adding further stress to these resources, the 2015 mass coral bleaching event caused a loss of 30% of coral cover statewide.
The conservancy’s marine conservation director Emily Fielding said there are examples of management efforts working.
"What's needed is collaborative planning and co-management," Fielding said. "At Kaʻūpūlehu on Hawaiʻi Island, four years into their 10-year rest area – the biomass increased by 612% Inside the reserve and 172% outside the reserve."
According to Fielding, the Kaʻūpūlehu community is working to develop a fisheries management plan to maintain healthy, sustainable fisheries once the reserve is re-opened to fishing in 2026.
The aquatic resources division at the state department of land and natural resources is working with local communities and stakeholders to create an effective management plan called Holomua Marine Initiative.
"This is a collaboration between people that care in our communities, fishers, traditional practitioners, the local and Native Hawaiian communities working together with the government to create regimes of management."
Fielding told HPR she hopes the poll shows there’s broad support for efforts at the aquatic resources division in the state department of land and natural resources.
The Nature Conservancy works with more than 50 community groups, leaders and other partners directly and through learning networks around Hawai‘i to build capacity for community-led co-management of marine resources.