How We Can Save Hawaii Reefs

I’m an advocate for building Coral Reef Cages when offered at my favorite beach resorts. It is one small way of saving important reefs in our ocean.

This is a personal shout out from my esteemed cousin, Mark Hixon, who is a Professor and Hsiao Endowed Chair in Marine Biology at the School of Life Sciences University of Hawai ‘i at Mānoa. 

His dad was an aviator in the Navy, which translated to a global lifestyle. My aunt & uncle traveled the world with their kids. When we were young, Aunt Margie & Uncle Ricky gave the best birthday gifts, pearls from Japan and trinkets from Morocco. Mark was always a. cool kid, and as an adult he is even more cool and accomplished!

My cousin Mark, is on the advisory board of #fishpono  How do we help?  We must begin now. For generations of Hawaiians, pono has been the practice of living in balance. And with Hawaiʻi’s coral reefs severely threatened due to various human activities, understanding our role in the fragile balance of our reef’s ecosystem has never been more critical. We believe if we live this practice of pono through our fishing we’ll ensure healthy reefs teeming with life for ʻohana to come.

Please take a minute to read and share the Fish Pono Site.

Fishing is part of Hawaiian Heritage. In Hawaiʻi. Some fish for sport. Others fish for food or income. We’re not telling people not to fish. (We fish ourselves.) We’re not here to regulate fishing either. We’re a growing ʻohana of ocean-lovers, scientists, watermen and women, and yes, fisher people, who care about our Hawaiian Islands, the culture, and the reefs that surround them.

And we all fish pono.

How and what we fish matters. Hawaiʻi is blessed with coral reefs that feed us, protect our coasts from erosion, provide many recreational and employment opportunities, and are increasingly a source of new medicines. When coral dies for any reason, it is replaced by either new coral or by seaweeds. If seaweeds prevail, then the reef dies and the fish leave. But if corals remain healthy, they will continue to grow and become more resilient to other major stressors such as ocean pollution and coral bleaching.  Herbivores such as uhu (parrotfish) eat the seaweeds, acting as lawnmowers for the reef, keeping the coral clean, healthy and resilient.

We can help keep Hawaiʻi’s coral reefs alive and beautiful by not taking too many of these fish, especially uhu. More of these lawnmowers means more healthy coral. Healthier coral means more shelter and food for all fish… and more fish means better fishing for all!


One of my diving photos.

No gardeners, no gardens. When herbivores — our reef’s lawnmowers — such as uhu, nenue, surgeonfish, and sea urchins are in low abundance, coral reefs get overrun with seaweeds, and begin to suffocate and die. These ever-important lawnmowers, especially the uhu, must be abundant and thriving for seaweeds to remain in check, our corals to survive and flourish, and our beaches to get their essential, desperately needed sand.

  1. We fish only what we need to feed ourselves and share with our immediate family. We fish for our table not the freezer. By taking only what we need and not what we can, we allow our fisheries to replenish.
  2. We avoid taking many uhu that help keep reefs clean and thriving. We also avoid taking too many other herbivores like chubs, surgeonfish, and sea urchin that play their part in coral reef health as well.
  3. We pass on our knowledge. When we see someone taking too many fish vital for reef health, we speak up and honor the opportunity to educate. It’s everyone’s kuleana to fish pono.

#FishPono  Scientific Advisors.

Dr. Alan Friedlander, Pristine Seas, National Geographic Society
Dr. Mark Hixon, School of Life Sciences, University of Hawai’i
Dr. Randy Kosaki, NOAA, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument
Dr. Kawika Winter, Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawai’i

Spread the word.

Share how you #FishPono and tag  @fishponohawaii on social media and let your friends and family know about our threatened reef ecosystem. There’s no better way to make an impact than to become an active advocate yourself.

Together we can save Hawaiʻi’s reefs. Join the #fishpono movement!

Save the reefs!