Hawai'i conservation alliance

2010 Best Student Oral Presentation

Assessing the Effectiveness of the Marine Life Conservation District at Waikiki

Katelin Shugart-Schmidt, Jennifer Barrett
Reef Watch Waikiki, United States

The Waikiki Marine Life Conservation District has experienced a significant decline in coral reef health over the past few decades, possibly as a result of reduced populations of herbivorous fish. By exploring the history of the Waikiki area, including ecological and human use changes, the current and potential management options for the reef were evaluated. Presently, the reef falls under three distinct management systems: a Marine Life Conservation District, a Fisheries Managed Area operating on a yearly rotational closure system, and an unmanaged area. Snorkel surveys were conducted in the summer of 2009, recording the fish biomass and algal type and density found along randomly set out transect lines. This study revealed statistically significant differences in algal cover between the three zones but insufficient data were collected to permit statistically significant conclusions to be drawn about fish biomass. The combination of this result and a literature review of research conducted in the area led to the recommendation that the Waikiki MLCD be expanded to include the adjacent Fisheries Management Area. Additionally, recommendations were made for the use of volunteers in surveying.