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Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Kaʻū News Briefs, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022

Coral bleaching has brought much attention to the devastation of reefs as a source of food, recreation and coastal protection. This is National Corals Week, with a Coral Reef Sustainability Innovation Act introduced by Hawai'i members of Congress. Photo from NOAA

THE CORAL REEF SUSTAINABILITY THROUGH INNOVATION ACT was introduced by Sen. Mazie Hirono and Rep. Ed Case on Wednesday, during National Corals Week.  Hirono noted that "Coral reefs play an important role in Hawai'i's maritime ecosystems, serving as a source of food, a place for recreation and tourism, and a source for coastal protection." She pointed to a  U.S. Geological Survey study published in 2019 that estimated the flood protection value of coral reefs in Hawai'i alone at $836 million annually. Additionally, a study published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  in 2011 estimated the total economic value of Hawai'i coral reefs to the American people to be $33.57 billion.
A family of Hawaiian Dascyllus Damselfish, āloʻiloʻi, gather around a stressed 
cauliflower coral. Photo by Lindsey Kramer/Hawai'i Wildlife Fund
    The legislation directs the federal agencies that are members of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force "to establish, individually or with one or more other agencies, a coral health prize competition in order to spur innovative solutions to preserve, sustain, and restore coral reef ecosystems at no additional cost to taxpayers." The text of the bill is also included in the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act.
   The statement from Hirono said the measure is bipartisan and bicameral and would "help protect coral reef ecosystems in Hawai'i and across the nation from increasing threats such as climate change, pollution, and direct damage from humans. 
Corals reefs in danger. Photo from state Division of Aquatic Resources
  "Coral reefs are vital to Hawaii's environment, providing a rich habitat for marine life while helping to protect our coastlines and prevent flooding," said Hirono. "Decades of pollution and ocean warming caused by climate change have left corals in Hawai'i and around the world at risk of extinction. As we work to protect and restore coral reef ecosystems, this legislation will help incentivize innovation and inspire creative solutions to protect coral reefs, at no cost to taxpayers. I'll continue fighting to protect Hawaii's coral reefs and all of our natural resources for generations to come."
    Case said, "Healthy coral reef ecosystems provide the greatest biological diversity of all ecosystem types in the world. However, warmer-than-normal ocean temperatures are threatening their health and causing mass bleaching events, which cause corals to be more susceptible to disease and increase their chances of dying. Prize competitions that encourage public-private partnerships have an established record of jump-starting innovation to address our most complicated challenges. This measure will follow that model in determining the best solutions to the threats to our coral reef ecosystems and integrating them into our federal ocean management policy."
        The Hirono statement said "pollution, overfishing, and rising ocean temperatures are threatening the health of coral reefs in Hawai'i and around the world, as evidenced by an increase in the frequency and duration of global mass bleaching events in recent decades."
       For more on Corals Week, see https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/feature-story/celebrate-corals-week#:~:text=Corals%20Week%20is%20December%205,the%20reef%20habitats%20they%20create.&text=Coral%20reefs%20are%20the%20most,%2C%20sea%20turtles%2C%20and%20more.

Flood protection value of coral reefs in Hawai'i alone is estimated at $836 million annually.
Photo from NOAA

LAVA BREAKOUTS FROM FISSURE THREE have been observed high on Mauna Loa's Northeast Rift Zone, according to the Civil Defense report today. "The breakouts are expected to slightly slow the advancement of the main flow front of Fissure 3." Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reports that Fissure 3 on Mauna Loa's northeast rift continues to erupt lava and the flowfront is 1.8 miles from Daniel K. Inouye Highway, the Saddle Road, which remains open in both directions. "No communities are currently at risk." Civil Defense reminded that "all areas adjacent to Daniel K. Inouye Highway, Old Saddle Road, and near the lava flow are closed and prohibited from access to the public for your safety due to hazards."

 A morning overflight on Dec. 7, provided aerial views of fissure 3 erupting on the Northeast
Rift Zone of Mauna Loa. USGS image by M. Patrick
Pearl Harbor National Memorial on Dec. 7
NPS photo by L. Nowell

PEARL HARBOR DAY ON WEDNESDAY brought the order from the President of the United States and Gov. Josh B. Green to fly the U.S. and Hawaiʻi state flag at half-staff at the Hawaiʻi State Capitol and at all state offices and agencies, as well as the Hawaiʻi National Guard in the State of Hawaiʻi from sunrise until sunset on Wednesday, Dec. 7. Green said, "Today, the First Lady and I were able to honor in solemn remembrance at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial the sacrifices of the thousands of men and women who lost their lives on December 7, 1941, during an attack that shook Hawai'i and our nation." The U.S. President's proclamation can be found
at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2022/12/06/a-proclamation-on-national-pearl-harbor-remembrance-day-2022-2022/. See the ceremonies on the Pearl Harbor National Memorial facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PearlHarborNPS/

Pearl Harbour memorial ceremonies on Wednesday in Honolulu. NPS Photo by L. Nowell
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