DETECTING IMPACTS ON REEF FISH IN KONA: A MODEL FOR COMMUNITY AND INTERAGENCY COLLOBORATION
Tissot B, Hallacher LE, Nishimoto RT, Carman B, Hendricks P and Peck SJ. Program in Environmental Science and Regional Planning, Washington State University, 14204 NE Salmon Creek Ave., Vancouver, WA 98686. (HL) Department of Biology, University of Hawai’i at Hilo, 200 W. Kawili St., Hilo, HI 96720. (NR) Division of Aquatic Resources, PO Box 936, Hilo, HI 9672. (CB) Division of Aquatic Resources, PO Box 936, Hilo, HI 96721.
Monitoring programs often suffer from weak links to effective management strategies. Along the Kona coast of Hawai’i, the aquarium fish collecting industry has been attributed to major declines in the abundance of several reef fishes and has resulted in a multiple use conflict with the dive tourism industry. We designed a study to address the magnitude of these impacts by comparing the abundance of target and select non-target species in both collected and non-collected areas (marine reserves). The design incorporated input from fish collectors, dive tour operators, state resource managers, enforcement, the state legislature, university researchers and the community. Monitoring of two replicate control-impact sites was conducted by trained undergraduate students in cooperation with staff from the state Division of Aquatic Resources. The monitoring effort was supplemented by a community volunteer group trained through a collaborative program with the University of Hawaii Sea Grant Extension Service. The two year study indicated significant declines in six of the seven most abundantly collected fishes. These data, along with strong public opposition to fish collecting, resulted in the legislative establishment in 1998 of the West Hawaii Regional Fishery Management Area which requires that a minimum of 30% of the coastline be established as marine reserves with aquarium fish collecting prohibited. Our current efforts are focused on evaluating the effectiveness of these protected areas. (Key words: fishing impacts, management, experimental design, aquarium fish, community)
Presented at the International Conference on Scientific Aspects of Coral Reef Assessment, Monitoring, and Restoration, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, 14-16 April 1999