Wednesday, July 9, 2008

New study shows that Hawaiian reef fish are in decline - Los Angeles Times

Another great article in Wednesday's Los Angeles Times from Ken Weiss (read online version). Ken has a great knack for taking scientific data and putting into laymen's terms while also fairly presenting all sides of an issue.

Here we have a study from the International Coral Reef Symposium that documents that the Hawaiian Islands are clearly showing reef fish in decline, with as much as 75% of the species critically affected. The populations of reef fish play a critical role in maintaining healthy coral reefs "by grazing on algae that can quickly overgrow the stony corals and cause them to collapse." The primary culprit appears to be overfishing. Of additional concern is the fact that international authorities and local governments have not been effectively monitoring the take by recreational and small-scale subsistence fishermen, only the commercial operations - a bit like monitoring gas consumption among commercial trucks and ignoring the passenger vehicles.

If ever there was a need for better regulations and setting aside protected reserves, this is it. Then of course there is one of my favorite solutions: investing in more and better aquaculture. If you're a US citizen, remember: Hawaii is our 50th state, part of the team. So, check with the Oceanic Institute and NOAA to see what you can do to help our Pacific Paradise maintain its aquatic beauty.

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