DLNR to present plan for repairing coral off Kihei

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources will present Thursday its plans to remedy coral accidentally damaged more than three years ago at the Keawakapu artificial reef.

The public informational meeting will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary education center at 726 S. Kihei Road.

The Keawakapu reef was damaged in December 2009 when 1,400 Z-shaped concrete modules were placed offshore to create fish habitats. Most of the blocks were located correctly in designated artificial reef boundaries, but approximately 125 blocks went outside the boundaries and fell on live coral, according to a DLNR chronology.

The department’s Division of Aquatic Resources proposes to remove the 125 blocks from the reef.

Other options include leaving all the blocks in place or partial removal of some blocks to minimize further coral damage.

A report on the coral damage and proposed remedial action may be found online at hawaii.gov/dlnr/dar/pdf/KeawakapuAR.pdf

Following the coral damage, DLNR conducted an internal investigation and invited the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to do an independent investigation to develop new standard operating procedures to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

Officials said numerous studies have found that artificial reefs enhance reef habitat, increase fish propagation and diversify the species of fish within a reef area.