Coral Bleaching Recovery Plan
The goal of the Coral Bleaching Recovery Plan is to promote coral reef recovery following
the 2014-2015 global coral bleaching event. Coral bleaching is a stress response, generally
induced by high temperature and light levels, where the coral animal expels zooxanthellae,
or photosynthetic dinoflagellates that provide coral polyps with energy. Bleached corals are
in a weakened state and will eventually die if temperature and light levels remain high. We
sought to identify management interventions most likely to promote coral recovery following
the mass bleaching event in Hawai‘i, specifically by synthesizing published information and
expert opinions relevant to future policy and rule making by the Department of Land and
Natural Resources (DLNR). The Coral Bleaching Recovery Plan summarizes these findings,
with the goal of supporting effective capacity to implement management actions to promote
coral recovery in Hawai‘i.
Establishing a network of permanent no-take Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and establishing a network of Herbivore Fishery Management Areas (HFMAs) were the top ranked actions arising from the expert judgment assessments and the literature analysis. These were top ranked actions in both evaluations of global and local expert judgment as well as scientific literature.
The next step should be to evaluate where the top-ranked actions including spatial management and perhaps a selection of fisheries rules would have the greatest positive impact in terms of coral reef recovery. Also, an evaluation of how management actions could enhance resiliency to future coral bleaching events is needed. Bleaching events are predicted to increase in both severity and frequency and so a proactive, resilience-based management framework should be considered to support the ability of Hawai‘i’s reefs to resist frequent climate disturbances.
Additional Resources (click image to download):
More information on coral bleaching: https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/reefresponse/home/coral-impacts/