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Subject: Re: Misleading post on the NWHI
From: Lance Morgan <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:[log in to unmask]
Date:Fri, 4 Mar 2005 20:41:21 -0800

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Tony is also misleading us with his comments. The revised number concerning
coral reefs is as Tony reported, but he wrongly suggests overfishing is not
an issue.  Only one fishery (bottomfish) currently exists in the NWHI
because the other main fishery, lobster, has been closed due to overfishing.

There are also plenty of indications that the bottomfish fishery is in
trouble.  Catch per unit effort has significantly decreased in the two
management zones of the NWHI: the Mau zone (from 4463 lbs/trip in 1989 to
1416 lbs/trip in 2002) and the Ho'omalu zone (from 9464 lbs/trip in 1992 to
4683 lbs/trip in 2002).  Additionally, spawning potential ratio (SPR) has
been decreasing for a decade.

The spiny and slipper lobster fishery started in the late 1970s, was
overfished and promptly collapsed in the early 1980s.  The fishery collapsed
a second time in the late 1980s and was finally closed in 1993.  Reopened
for several months, an emergency closure was imposed in 1994, again in 1995,
and most recently in 2000.  Harvest of up to 500% of the MSY for spiny
lobster was allowed as CPUE declined from 3.37 in 1983 to a mere 0.36 in

All of this has occurred on a species identified as a major ecosystem and
dietary component of the severely endangered Hawaiian monk seal. Survival
rates of the juvenile monk seals most dependent on lobsters have declined
from 90% in the mid-1980s to a "catastrophically low" 10-20%.  "The accepted
hypothesis is that juveniles were not getting sufficient nutrition."
Hawaiian Monk seal numbers are currently around 1300; roughly 60% below
their  mid 1950's level when counts began.

Additionally Russian and Japanese fishermen began targeting seamount
bottomfish (Pelagic armourhead) in the NWHI in the 1960s.  The seamount
fisheries were so depleted after only ten years of heavy fishing, that the
fishery was closed in 1986.  A series of five-year closures have been
passed, based on a finding that there is no indication of a recovery, even
after almost twenty years of closure.

Fishery management is the main issue in the NWHI and the Sanctuary
designation process. There are a lot of interesting stories concerning the
NWHI ecosystem; for example it is one of the only apex-predator dominated
ecosystems left in the world.

I encourage any with an interest in NWHI Sanctuary process to get informed.

Lance Morgan
Marine Conservation Biology Institute

-----Original Message-----
From: Scientific forum on fish and fisheries
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Tony Beeching
Sent: Friday, March 04, 2005 6:26 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Misleading post on the NWHI

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Hi Everyone,

I live in Hawaii and I have a problem with this letter.

This is indeed a rare opportunity - to spam after reading a misleading post.

NWHI has 70% of the coral reef under the US Control? No it doesn't. The old
70% figure is an inaccurate extrapolation - recent NOAA surveys, as
presented at the NWHI Scientific Symposium, Honolulu, November 2004, give a
figure of less than 10% live coral reef habitat in the NWHI. The greatest
amount of coral under US control is in FACT in Florida.

As for damage inflicted to date - 3 separate surveys over the last 30 years
have shown the NWHI to be pristine, what isn't stated below is that it is
pristine under the current management regime. The reference to damage
already inflicted should indicate that the cause of much of that damage has
been ascribed to marine debris - mitigation actions are in progress for what
is not a purely domestic issue - impacts from marine debris are an
international problem.

A comparison between other Sanctuaries and this oceanic system are
inappropriate - tourism and over-fishing are not issues here. The history of
these islands is one of declining human habitation, with the closure of
military bases, coastguard stations and ecotourism operations. The last
tourist operation closed 3 years ago and was largely confined to Midway. The
only fishery that operates in the NWHI is a highly regulated specialist
fishery for snappers on the deep reef slope which catches about 1% of the
total coastal fish catch from the entire Hawaiian archipelago.

Whilst I agree that it is important to protect marine resources - I am
opposed to the posting of misleading information which is likely to lead to
spamming by those who have been misinformed.

Thank you for caring enough to determine the facts.

Tony Beeching

ReefDispatch! wrote:

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to this message, it will go to all FISH-SCI members.

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*       March 4, 2005       *

*  R E E F D I S P A T C H  *

* _________________________ *

*    How Much Protection    *

*  for the Coral Reefs of   *

* the NW Hawaiian Islands?  *

*                           *

*    -- learn more at --    *



Dear Friend of Coral Reefs,

You have a rare opportunity to help protect the Northwestern Hawaiian
Islands -- one of the last large, intact coral reef ecosystems in the world
--  by going to and clicking on the
Northwestern Hawaiian Islands public comment letter link.

The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands stretch across more than 1,200 nautical
miles northwest of the main Hawaiian Islands, and encompass almost 70
percent of the coral reefs under United States control.  They may be
America's last opportunity to protect a nearly intact coral reef ecosystem,
and to repair the damage inflicted to date.

Right now, plans are being drafted to establish the Northwestern Hawaiian
Islands as a National Marine Sanctuary.  Sadly, however, many of the
existing U.S. national marine sanctuaries have so far proven insufficient to
protect the species and habitats within from the adverse effects of
overfishing, pollution, poorly managed tourism, and other activities. If the
same approach is taken in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, damage to this
nearly pristine coral ecosystem is virtually inevitable.

To let the U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) know
how much and what type of protection you would like to see given to the
Northwestern Hawaiian Islands coral reef ecosystem, please go to and click on the Northwestern Hawaiian
Islands public comment letter link.

Thanks for caring,


ReefGuardian International

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