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Protect Our Coral Reefs

Education should be part of the solution.

August 6, 2009
Commentary contributed by Tamara Paltin · Lahaina

I care deeply about the health of our coral reefs, and I would like to see them thriving and teeming with fish. I feel that the Board of Land and Natural Resources’ attempt to catch and fine those who damage our natural resources is ineffective. The reason I feel this way is that the fine leveled against Maui Dive Shop’s Kai Anela did little to deter Makena Boat Partners’ Kai Kanani from dragging a chain anchor over the reef outside of the Maui Prince hotel; it did nothing to prevent the AikaneX5 from doing the same at Honolua Bay (a marine life conservation district) as recently as July 20.

I believe that the Board of Land and Natural Resources should make an effort to align systems to produce the desired result of protecting our reefs. It seems that lack of education and awareness is a primary cause in reef destruction by tour boat operators. Maybe if they understood the connection of a healthy reef and business economics they would treat our reefs with more respect.

In addition to fines and permit suspensions, the company owner and all of its employees should have to take educational courses, such as the Eyes of the Reef training workshops put on by the Division of Aquatic Resources. In addition, they should force those who do damage to participate in ongoing reef surveys and become involved with the Maui Reef Fund. Once those who damage the reef see the volunteer efforts being made to protect our reefs, maybe that will be a stronger deterrent for future damage, and they can champion the cause to their patrons and other tour operators. They can also become part of the solution, instead of adding to the problem, by joining the Eyes of the Reef network of concerned citizens.



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