Hawaiʻi Resident Users' Knowledge, Attitudes, and Perceptions (KAP) of Coral Reefs in the Two Hawaiʻi Priority Sites

The U.S. Coral Reef Task Force was established in 1998 by Executive Order 13089 to lead and coordinate U.S. efforts to address the threats facing coral reefs. The Hawaiʻi Coral Reef Working Group, composed of key state and federal partners involved in coral reef management, was established through a local charter to provide guidance to the State of Hawaiʻi's coral program and to prioritize sites to implement specific ridge-to-reef management activities. Priority sites are areas where coral reef ecosystems of high biological value are threatened but have strong potential for improvement with management intervention. The current two high priority sites in Hawaiʻi are South Kohala on the Big Island (Pelekane Bay-Puako-Anaehoʻomalu Bay, Hawaiʻi) and West Maui (Kaʻanapali-Kahekili, Maui). At both sites, multiple partners are collaborating to produce Conservation Action Plans (CAP) to conserve resources and human uses.

The University of Hawaiʻi's Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (JIMAR) and PIFSC Human Dimensions researchers developed and administered a survey at both sites to support the development and ongoing refinement of these conservation action plans. The purpose of the survey was to identify resident resource users' knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions regarding coral reef and watershed conditions, and to gauge support for potential management strategies to protect resources at the two priority sites. The information gained from the survey will provide managers with essential information about the population of resident users who can both threaten reef health and play a key role in stewardship of reef resources. Conservation planners will gain information about the threats and status of coral reefs from those who interact most with those systems, and help managers identify topics for public outreach and education.

Preliminary results from the surveys at each site were presented in the respective communities in November 2013 (South Kohala) and May 2014 (West Maui). Summary reports are being drafted and are expected to be published in 2016.