Managing Reefs

The State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) is the primary agency responsible for coordinating Hawaii’s reef management efforts in the main Hawaiian Islands. The Coral Reef Working Group, made up of key state and federal partners involved in coral reef management, provides guidance for the State of Hawaii’s coral program.

Management Goals

  • Coral reefs undamaged by pollution, invasive species, marine construction and marine debris.
  • Productive and sustainable coral reef fisheries and habitat
  • Coral reef ecosystems resilient to climate change, invasive species and marine debris. 
  • Increased public stewardship of coral reef ecosystems.

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Regulations

Unlawful to take, break or damage, any stony coral, including any reef or mushroom coral. Unlawful to damage any stony coral by any intentional or negligent activity causing the introduction of sediment, biological contaminants, or pollution into state waters. Unlawful to sell or offer for sale any stony coral, except that stony coral rubble pieces or fragments imported for the manufacture and sale of coral jewelry, or dead stony coral obtained through legal dredging operations in Hawaii, may be sold. HAR 13-95Slide063
Live rocks Unlawful to take, break or damage, any live rock, defined as any natural hard substrate to which marine life is visibly attached or affixed. Unlawful to damage any live rock by any intentional or negligent activity causing the introduction of sediment, biological contaminants, or pollution into state waters. Unlawful to sell any live rock. HAR 13-95Slide71
Prohibited: To take with the holdfast, the part attaching to a rock or other surface; To take when covered with reproductive nodes or bumps. Bag limits: One pound per person per day for home consumption; Ten pounds per day per marine licensee for commercial purposes. No commercial takingon Maui. HAR 13-93Slide067
Unlawful to take, destroy, possess or sell any pink or gold corals from State waters. Unlawful to take, destroy, or possess any black coral with a base diameter of less than 3/4 inches from State waters. Exceptions: With a permit, to take or possess pink or gold coral for scientific or educational purposes; or to take or possess pink or gold coral for commercial purposes, provided that harvesters make every effort to take only mature colonies of pink coral 10 inches or larger in height. Note: Harvesting of pink, gold or black corals may be suspended at any time. HAR 13-91Slide68

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Marine Managed Areas

Marine Managed Areas (MMAs) are specific geographic areas designated by statute or administrative rule for the purpose of managing a variety of marine, estuarine, or anchialine resources and their use. The resources may include any type of marine life (mammals, fishes, invertebrates, algae, etc.) and their habitats. In some cases, particularly Fisheries Management Areas, regulations may serve to resolve user conflicts. The goal of MMAs may also include preservation of cultural or historical resources.

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a subset of MMAs, and focus on protection, enhancement, and conservation of habitat and ecosystems. Some MPAs have very few fishing restrictions and allow sustainable fishing, while others restrict all fishing and are “no take” areas. In Hawaii, forms of MPAs, such as Marine Life Conservation Districts, have been in use for over 40 years.

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