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Site Selection Process

The CRAMP monitoring sites were selected in a process that extended over several years (1997-2000). The evolution of the final CRAMP site array involved continual interaction between managers and research scientists. The overall experimental design and site selection required careful thought because these sites will continue to be monitored for many more decades. These sites must be a representative cross section of Hawaiian coral reefs that will allow future analysis of the impact of major natural and anthropomorphic environmental factors throughout the State of Hawai‘i.

Dr. Michael Hamnett of the University of Hawai‘i  Social Science Research Institute, Mr. Peter Rappa of UH Sea Grant, and Mr. David Raney of the Sierra Club took the first step in the identification of problems and specific coastal areas of concern. In 1995 and 1996, they conducted a initial "desk top" evaluation of coral reef problems in Hawai‘i  through a series of workshops for scientists and workshops for community groups. This former brought together the leading coral reef managers and researchers in the State of Hawai‘i . Discussions led to identification of the primary environmental threats to coral reef ecosystems and the primary geographic areas where these threats occur. The threats of primary importance identified by the group include overuse (over-fishing, anchor damage, diver damage, etc.), sedimentation, nutrient loading, coastal construction, urbanization, catastrophic natural events (storm wave impact, lava flows), global warming (bleaching), introduced species, and disease outbreaks. The primary geographic areas of management concern that were identified included the Na Pali Coast (Kaua‘i), Hanalei (Kaua‘i), Po‘ipū (Kaua‘i), West O‘ahu, Waikīkī (O‘ahu), Kāne‘ohe Bay (O‘ahu), Hanauma Bay (O‘ahu), Pupukea (O‘ahu), South Moloka‘i, West Maui, Mā‘alaea Harbor (Maui) Kaho‘olawe, Kona Coast (Hawai‘i ) Kawaihae Harbor (Hawai‘i ), and Hilo Bay (Hawai‘i ).

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) initiated a comprehensive study in 1991 known as the Main Hawaiian Islands - Marine Resources Investigation (MHI-MRI). This continuing program is focused on fishery management problems at five sites throughout the state and provides a valuable source of information in regions of high management priority. Target sites for the MHI-MRI program are:

1. Hanalei Bay (Kaua‘i)

2. Kāne‘ohe Bay (O‘ahu)

3. Kihei Coast - Mā‘alaea Bay (Maui)

4. Kailua-Kona Coast (Hawai‘i )

5. Hilo Bay (Hawai‘i )

Obviously these sites would be incorporated into any state-wide assessment and monitoring program.

In 1998 the DLNR under Chairman Mike Wilson identified 25 natural resource "hot spots", which included Coral Reef Sustainability Hot Spots9 areas that contain coral reefs. Dave Gulko of DAR developed a one page summary of the coral reef areas of concern.

The coral reef "hot spots" identified by DLNR/DAR included the NaPali Coast (Kaua‘i), Hanalei Bay (Kaua‘i), Kāne‘ohe Bay (O‘ahu), Waikīkī (O‘ahu), Kaanapali Shore Waters (Maui), South Maui Shoreline, Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve (Maui), and the Kona Coast (Hawai‘i ).

During May 1998 the DAR developed a detailed list of priority monitoring sites and problems from the management point of view:

Recommended sites based on management concerns.

List provided to CRAMP by Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Aquatic Resources on 22 May 1998.

Hawai‘i : Site name - management issue/concern

  1. Mahukona - overuse

  2. Kawaihae - harbor construction

  3. Puako - FMA, overuse (overfishing), marine tourism

  4. Honokohau - overuse (fish collecting, overfishing)

  5. Old Kona Airport - MLCD overuse (marine tourism, moderate fishing)

  6. Kahaluu - overuse (marine tourism)

  7. Red Hill - fish collecting, marine tourism

  8. Kealekekua Bay - MLCD, marine tourism, (no fishing area)

  9. Honaunau - marine toruism, fishing

  10. Kapoho - overuse, fishing
    ** Other sites could be considered relative to the West Hawai‘i  legislative bill (Miloli‘i, Hookena, Makalawena, Kiholo)

Maui: Site name - management issue/concern

  1. Mā‘alaea Harbor area - DLNR concern, sedimentation, coastal construction.

  2. Ahihi Kinau NAR - DLNR Hotspot, (no fishing area), marine tourism, management - level effectiveness comparison (NAR vs, MLCD vs, FMA)

  3. West Maui - alien algal blooms, overfishing

  4. Honolua Bay - MLCD, sedimentation, marine tourism

O‘ahu: Site name - management issue/concern

  1. Kāne‘ohe Bay - DLNR Hotspot, overuse, overfishing, aquarium trade, marine tourism, alien algal spp. nutrification, sedimentation.

  2. Hanauma Bay -DLNR Hotspot, marine tourism, overuse, (no fishing area).

  3. Kahe/West Beach Area = overfishing, marine tourism, coastal construction.

Kaua‘i: Site name - management issue/concern

  1. Hanalei Bay - marine tourism, overuse

  2. Na Pali - DLNR Hotspot, marine tourism, overfishing

The CRAMP experimental design was further refined during the international "Hawai‘i  Coral Reef Monitoring Workshop" organized by the DAR in conjunction with the East-West Center held in Honolulu during June 9-12, 1998. (Maragos and Grober-Dunsmore, 1999) This workshop provided the means of evaluating and comparing the proposed CRAMP sites and experimental program in an international workshop setting.

An important event, which changed the focus for CRAMP on the Island of Hawai‘i , was the passage of House Bill 3457 during the 1997-98 legislative session as Act 306. This law was passed just as CRAMP work was being initiated. The act mandated the establishment of the West Hawai‘i  Regional Fishery Management Area (WHR-FMA) and was written in response to concern over heavy commercial harvesting of ornamental West Hawaii Proposed Fish Replenishment Areasaquarium fishes. The intent was to improve management of consumptive and non-consumptive reef resources in west Hawai‘i  by declaring 30% of the West Hawai‘i  coastline as aquarium fish replenishment areas, with some of these areas also designated as no reef fishing zones. In order to meet the legislative mandate it was necessary to focus all resources of DAR and the CRAMP program on the Island of Hawai‘i  on this project during year 1 of CRAMP. The experimental design for the Hawai‘i  Island program was directed entirely at assessment of the community structure and habitat of numerous sites on the Kona Coast with a focus on ornamental aquarium fishes.

Experimental design of the West Hawai‘i  Aquarium Project involves intensive monitoring at numerous sites along the West Hawai‘i  coast.

The experimental design required that all fish transects be located in the same type of environment to reduce variation due to habitat differences. The focus was on fished vs. protected site comparisons. It was necessary to place a strong emphasis on ornamental fish recruitment with less emphasis on benthic organisms. During the second year the Island of Hawai‘i  project was established as a separate program as the West Hawai‘i  Aquarium Project (WHAP). CRAMP then proceeded to develop five additional sites on the Island of Hawai‘i  with the assistance of WHAP investigators. The CRAMP sites on the Island of Hawai‘i  were selected to compliment the WHAP sites while providing a series of standard CRAMP sites on the Island of Hawai‘i  for comparison to the other sites located throughout the state. CRAMP transects are generally set at 10 feet and 30 feet depths in a wide range of habitats. The WHAP transects are necessarily set at 40-50 feet in a uniform Porites compressa habitat along the Kona Coast. Both programs are using similar techniques and the resulting data will provide useful comparisons.

DAR biologists on each island assisted in selection and installation of the CRAMP sites. On the island of Kaua‘i, Don Heacock of the DAR provided important information and assisted in final site selection. On Maui, Skippy Hau (biologist) and Russel Sparks (education and information) have been very much involved in the selection and ongoing monitoring sites on Maui, Molokini and Kaho‘olawe. DAR staff on the Island of Hawai‘i  (Bob Nishimoto, Bill Walsh, Pete Hendricks and Brent Carman) has been very involved in the selection and installation of sites.

In sum, the final site list for CRAMP includes all sites previously identified as high priority by managers (e.g. all "Hot Spots" identified by DLNR). All sites on the 1998 DAR priority list were incorporated into the first year CRAMP monitoring design. The West Hawai‘i  sites listed as priority sites by DAR in 1998 became the nucleus of WHAP. Additional CRAMP sites on the Island of Hawai‘i  were added to provide a full cross section of Hawaiian coastal environments. These included a recent lava flow and a site on the extensive Hāmākua coast. Additional sites were added throughout the state in order to produce a representative cross section of all habitats in the Main Hawaiian Islands. The final array of sites allows testing of hypotheses involving the impact of natural as well as anthropogenic factors on coral reefs.

Current sites can be found on SITE LIST.


Last Update: 05/08/2008

By: Lea Hollingsworth

Hawai‘i  Coral Reef Assessment & Monitoring Program

Hawai‘i  Institute of Marine Biology

P.O. Box 1346

Kāne‘ohe, HI 96744

808-236-7440 phone

808-236-7443 fax