Hawai'i Coral Reef Network

Marine Protected Areas in Hawai'i

In the state of Hawai'i there are two major types of MPAs: Marine Life Conservation Districts (MLCDs) and Fishery Management Areas (FMAs).

  • MLCDs were designed to conserve and replenish marine resources and usually allow only limited fishing and other consumptive uses. They provide fish and other aquatic life with a protected area in which to grow and reproduce, and are home to a great variety of species. Fishes in most MLCDs are fairly tame and often show little fear of humans. MLCDs are most popular as sites for snorkeling, diving and underwater photography. MLCDs were introduced to Hawai'i in the fall of 1967 with Hanauma Bay on Oahu. The resulting increase in fish populations was phenomenal, and the bay has become world famous. At the present time there are ten MLCDs statewide.

  • FMAs, in contrast, are areas the are more narrowly managed, often prohibiting only a single type of activity such as gill netting, or several activities.

Other MPAs include Natural Reserve Areas, refuges, and the Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

The descriptions of many of the MPAs below was taken from the Division of Aquatic Resources publications: Hawai'i Fishing Regulations and  Marine Life Conservation Districts. See these publications for additional information.

MLCDs FMAs Other
Hawai'i Lapakahi West Hawai'i Regional FMA
Waialea Bay

Kawaihae Harbor

Old Kona Airport

Puako Bay and Puako Reef

Kealakekua Bay

Kiholo Bay

Kona Coast

Kailua Bay

Keauhou Bay

Hilo Bay, Wailoa River, and Wailuku River


Molokini Shoal Kahului Harbor
Honolua-Mokuleia Bay 'Ahihi-Kina'u Natural Area Reserve
Lana'i Manele-Hulopoe Manele Harbor
Molokai'i Kaunakakai Harbor

Hanauma Bay

Waikiki-Diamond Head Shoreline


Coconut Island - Hawai'i Marine Laboratory Refuge


Kaua'i Hanamaulu Bay and Ahukini Recreation Pier
Waimea Bay and Waimea Recreational Pier


Also see the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary
which surrounds parts of the islands of Maui, Molokai'i, Lana'i and Kaua'i


Last update: 6/12/2002