KAANAPALI - This month marks the four-year anniversary of the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area (KHFMA), a first-of-its-kind marine managed area located in North Kaanapali.
To celebrate this area and the coral reefs it aims to protect, a Birthday Bash and Ridge to Reef Celebration will be thrown on Sunday, July 28, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Kahekili Beach Park (Airport Beach) in Kaanapali.
This jam-packed, family friendly event will feature complimentary barbecue, a ridge to reef-themed culinary contest, a seaweed eating competition, reef snorkel tour with ocean experts, the Great Annual Fish Count, water quality sampling and a Savvy Shopper Relay Race.
The Birthday Bash and Ridge to Reef Celebration will feature a barbecue, ridge to reef-themed culinary contest, seaweed eating competition and a Savvy Shopper Relay Race, in which contestants will frantically sort household products based on “reef friendliness.”
Prizes include accommodation stays and meals at Kaanapali Beach Hotel, Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa, The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas and The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua.
The party will be hosted by community members, the Coral Reef Alliance, West Maui Ridge to Reef Initiative, state Division of Aquatic Resources, West Maui Kumuwai campaign, non-profits, private sector companies and government partners.
The KHFMA was designed to enhance the population of herbivores - animals that eat seaweed, such as surgeonfish, parrotfish and sea urchins - in the area to reduce excess algae and improve coral health.
Because the managed area is just one aspect that can contribute to a healthy ocean, this year's event has a "ridge to reef" theme.
The event will showcase the many ways individuals can take action on land and in the water to reduce threats to our reefs.
The Coral Reef Alliance, along with the Maui Division of Aquatic Resources, coordinates the Kaanapali Makai Watch program that was established in support of the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area.
The Kaanapali Makai Watch program aims to empower community members to play an active role in education, outreach and citizen science to assist in the implementation of this marine managed area and promote reef stewardship and conservation in this region.
CORAL is also working with hotels in West Maui to facilitate reef stewardship and sustainability initiatives, including efforts to develop resources to assist West Maui properties in their upcoming transition to using reclaimed water for landscaping purposes.