With the popular Ahu O Laka sandbar in Kāne’ohe Bay currently closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, recreational boaters have moved away from anchoring at the sand bar.
DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) Administrator Brian Neilson said, “The bay has some of the best, in-tact coral reefs (patch reefs) in all of Hawai‘i and many people have worked for years to remove invasive algae and even invasive corals to preserve this unique and special coral reef ecosystem. Damaging the reef with a prop or anchor can cause injury to these living reefs that could take generations to repair, if ever.”
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Boaters, divers, snorkelers, and fishers are being reminded that the patch reefs are extremely sensitive to human interaction and people should be very cautious around them. Steps to protect the reefs include:
Do not touch, kick, rest, or stand on the coral
Avoid touching anything and stirring up sediment
Never drop anchor on coral
Use adequate anchor line to avoid dragging an anchor across the reef
Use a spotter to avoid hitting reefs
If an anchor is stuck do not yank it, but dive or snorkel to release
Officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement are making regular patrols of Kāne’ohe Bay. Anyone found damaging or disturbing these fragile reefs, intentionally or not could be cited.