What are herbivores and why are they important for coral reefs?
Fish and other animals that primarily eat plants, seaweed, and algae are called herbivores. There are many species of herbivorous fishes in Hawaiʻi. The most commonly fished herbivores are parrotfish (uhu), chubs/rudderfish (nenue), and surgeonfish (manini, kole, kala, etc.). These species play many important roles in Hawaiʻi’s nearshore waters.
Coral reefs rely upon abundant populations of herbivores to remain healthy and resilient. Herbivorous fish maintain a balance in coral reef ecosystems by grazing the reef and preventing corals from becoming overgrown with algae. Read more about the importance of herbivores here.
Why are regulations needed?
Regulations are used to ensure responsible and sustainable fishing practices. By limiting the number and/or size of fish that are caught at one time, communities can benefit from more fish in the future and have plenty of food on the table for family and friends. Regulations ensure fair and sustainable fishing opportunities for Hawaiʻi’s present and future fishers.
How can I get involved?
Public scoping meetings were held in 2020 and 2021. Read about our Sustainable Herbivore Management Plan here.
The Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) held 16 initial scoping sessions, 10 in November of 2020 and 6 in March of 2021, to gather feedback and comments on herbivorous fishes and invertebrates. A series of public scoping sessions for updates to the Statewide Herbivore Management Strategy, including proposed rule amendments for select herbivorous species, were held in 2021 on December 11, 13, and 15th through Zoom. Frequently asked questions (FAQ) from the December scoping meetings can be found further below. DAR has also drafted a Sustainable Herbivore Management Plan and refined our initial ideas for an Herbivore Management Strategy, highlighting both statewide and place-based management priorities.
On December 8, 2022, DAR requested the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) to approve holding statewide public hearings on the proposed rules amendments or select species of herbivorous fish, including minimum harvest size adjustments for manini and kole and bag limits for uhu and kala. Based on their feedback, DAR has drafted additional rule amendments with accommodations for the commercial fishery for uhu and kala. On May 12, 2023, DAR will request the BLNR to approve holding statewide public hearings on the updated proposed rules, including these commercial fishery accommodations. If the request is granted, the proposal will then be reviewed by the Small Business Regulatory Review Board and the Governor’s office, before public hearings are scheduled.
Please sign up for our mailing list here to receive future updates, including notification when the public hearings are scheduled.
Are these island-wide rules or statewide rules?
This rulemaking effort is a statewide effort to address widespread department concerns about declining reef health and herbivorous fish populations.
The Holomua Marine Initiative will be working towards place-based planning for specific areas throughout the state with public input about the specific needs of particular places. If you would like to see different rules in your place, please participate in that process as well.
Any additional thoughts or questions? Talk to us!
- East Hawai‘i- Troy Sakihara (808) 961-9532 [email protected]
- West Hawai‘i – Chris Teague (808) 327-6226 [email protected]
- Maui – Russell Sparks (808) 243-5832 [email protected]
- O‘ahu – Stacia Marcoux (808) 753-5175 [email protected]
- Kaua‘i – Heather Ylitalo-Ward (808) 274-3346 [email protected]
Click below to read about our Sustainable Herbivore Management Plan
Access and view previous public herbivore scoping notes below:
Statewide Herbivore Scoping Notes: December 2021
Targeted/Hosted Scoping Notes: March 2021
General Public Scoping Notes: 2020