Tag: Hawaii

Global warming threatens rare Hawaiian flower

Haleakalā silverswords (ʻahinahina) in full bloom.NPS photo by Kit Harris
Haleakalā silverswords (ʻahinahina) in full bloom.
NPS photo by Kit Harris

‘The silversword example foreshadows trouble for diversity in other biological hotspots’

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — An all-out effort to protect a rare Hawaiian plan from extinction may not be enough in the face of climate change.

The Haleakalā silversword made a strong recovery from early 20th-century threats, but researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa say it has been hit hard by climate change, undergoing increasingly frequent and lethal water stress. Local climate data confirm trends towards warmer and drier conditions on the mountain, which the researchers warn will create a bleak outlook for the threatened silverswords if climate trends continue. Continue reading “Global warming threatens rare Hawaiian flower”


Global warming: Sea level rise threatens Hawaii biodiversity

Pelagic birds do need a bit of land, and some nesting areas in Hawaii may be threatened. Bob Berwyn photo.

USGS study says sea bird rookery in outlying Hawaiian Islands at risk

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Sea level rise could threaten the breeding areas of numerous sea bird breeding areas in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study that analyzed the combined effects sea-level rise and wave action.

Most climate change models predict a 1-meter rise in global sea level by 2100, with larger increases possible in parts of the Pacific Ocean. Those rising sea levels may inundate low-lying islands across the globe, placing island biodiversity at risk. Continue reading “Global warming: Sea level rise threatens Hawaii biodiversity”

Biodiversity: More protection sought for Hawaii reefs

Most of Hawaii’s coral reefs are concentrated around the big island, according to this NOAA map.

Overfishing and commercial harvesting pose a threat to biodiversity

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Hawaii’s reefs may have a fighting chance to survive climate change impacts if they’re protected from other impacts like overfishing, but so far, state officials haven’t done enough conservation planning — and haven’t even followed the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act’s requirement to examine aquarium collection’s effects on the environment before issuing collection permits.

Last week, a coalition of community groups and activists took the state to court, asking Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources to conduct environmental reviews — including an examination of cumulative damage to the state’s reefs — before granting permits that allow unlimited aquarium collection of marine wildlife in coastal waters.

Earthjustice filed the complaint under the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act in the 1st Circuit Court on behalf of Rene Umberger, Mike Nakachi, Kaimi Kaupiko, Willie Kaupiko, Conservation Council for Hawaii, The Humane Society of the United States and the Center for Biological Diversity.  Continue reading “Biodiversity: More protection sought for Hawaii reefs”

Biodiversity: Court upholds sea turtle protection

Limits on longline bycatch set to protect endangered turtles

Loggerhead sea turtle. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Endangered leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles around Hawaii may have a better chance of recovery after a federal court last week set strict limits on the longline swordfish fishery in the waters around the islands.

“Our settlement ensures that sea turtles can swim more freely and safely in Hawaii’s waters,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “If loggerheads and leatherbacks are going to survive, we need to stop killing them in our fisheries.”

Under the settlement, upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the longline swordfishing boats will have to curtail their activity for the season once they’ve landed 17 turtles as bycatch.

The settlement rejected an appeal by the fishing industry, which sought to invalidate the agreement, and resolved a lawsuit brought by the  Turtle Island Restoration Network, the Center for Biological Diversity and KAHEA, a native Hawaiian-environmental alliance.  Continue reading “Biodiversity: Court upholds sea turtle protection”

Marine reserves can help rebuild distant fisheries

A new study from Hawaii shows that fish in protected marine reserves can help build fishery stocks far outside the protected areas.

New science bolsters case for establishing protected marine areas

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Marine ecologists at Oregon State University have shown for the first time that tiny fish larvae can drift with ocean currents and “re-seed” fish stocks up to 100 miles away, according to a new study from Hawaii. The findings show that marine reserves can be critical to rebuilding fishery stocks in areas outside the reserves.

The research was published this week in PLoS One, a scientific journal.

“We already know that marine reserves will grow larger fish and some of them will leave that specific area, what we call spillover,” said Mark Hixon, a professor of marine biology at OSU. “Now we’ve clearly shown that fish larvae that were spawned inside marine reserves can drift with currents and replenish fished areas long distances away.

“This is a direct observation, not just a model, that successful marine reserves can sustain fisheries beyond their borders,” he said. “That’s an important result that should help resolve some skepticism about reserves. And the life cycle of our study fish is very similar to many species of marine fish, including rockfishes and other species off Oregon. The results are highly relevant to other regions.” Continue reading “Marine reserves can help rebuild distant fisheries”

Travel: Study shows tourists support coral reef protection

A sea turtle swims lazily along a coral reef in Hawaii, trailed by tropical fish. (Photo by Kosta Stamoulis, courtesy Oregon State University via Flickr.)

Many people say they would skip visiting a reef if that’s what it takes to protect it

By Bob Berwyn

Tourists are often charged with loving their favorite places to death, but when it comes to coral reefs, that may not be the case.

Oregon State University and the University of Hawaii recently completed an interesting study showing that people feel so strongly about the importance of protecting coral reefs that many would be willing to forego a visit if that’s what it takes to save the reefs.

The study suggests reefs are a rare exception to controversies over human use versus environmental conservation. The core belief is often strong enough that if it means people have to be kept out, so be it. Continue reading “Travel: Study shows tourists support coral reef protection”

Hawaii marine reserve may get world heritage status

Designation of new sites due end of July; Mount Vernon is also on the list

The Pitons, Cirques and Remparts of La Réunion, France, in the Indian Ocean, is another area actively seeking World Heritage status for the conservation and tourism benefits of the designation. Click on the photo for more information. Image courtesy Reunionweb.com.
An endangered Hawaiian monk seal comes ashore at the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawai’i. Photo courtesy the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — By the end of this month, planet Earth will have a few more of its most cherished spots designated as World Heritage sites, recognized internationally for their outstanding natural and cultural values. And this year, the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawai’i is one of the candidates for listing. Mount Vernon, George Washington’s estate, is the other U.S. candidate this year.

Papahānaumokuākea is the country’s largest marine reserve and has a good chance of making the list, as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) focuses on marine ecosystems. See a YouTube video on the reserve at the end of this story.

“This year … we will launch new studies promoting greater representation of deserts and marine areas on the World Heritage List,” said Tim Badman, IUCN’s Head of World Heritage. Continue reading “Hawaii marine reserve may get world heritage status”