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    Thursday, July 18, 2019-8:25:53P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Reef Tips | Protecting our coral reefs

With the increasing temperature of our planet, the climate stress on our reefs have caused devastatingly widespread coral bleaching, endangering our islands and lifestyle. With the most severe bleaching incidents in 2014, 2016, with 2017 having had the worst effects to our local reefs, more corals are subject to the effects of climate change in the near future.

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Pacific Resiliency Fellow Jihan Younis, right, poses with Mufi Hannemann, Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association Chief Executive Officer and Esther Kia’aina, Executive Director of the Pacific Basin Development Council after a presentation of her Garapan Clean Water Initiative in Honolulu Tuesday.  Pacific Resiliency shared their projects at Hawai’i Conservation Conference during a special one-hour forum: “Journeys in Conservation from Across the Pacific: Pacific Resiliency Fellows Share Their Efforts to Build Resiliency in Their Communities.”  Contributed photo
Pacific Resiliency Fellows work on a planting project on Oahu as part of their service learning program, led by Kupu, a non-profit organization based in Honolulu, Hawai’i, providing hands-on environmental and sustainability service learning opportunities to train up the next generation in natural resource management, renewable energy, energy conservation and other green job skill sets.  Contributed photo

Coral bleaching occurs when healthy coral becomes stressed due to continuous exposure to warm temperatures.Although it is possible to reverse its bleaching, recovery can only be done with about 10 years of undisturbed and stable climate waters.

The Marine Monitoring Team at the Division of Coastal Resources Management has confirmed that not only do we have a local coral bleaching problem, but also threats to our lagoon as well. Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms contain toxic chemicals that can harm wildlife and humans when ingested or by direct contact.

While they can occur naturally, nutrient-rich waters from industrial inland run-off is one of the main factors to their persistent growth. Unfortunately, blue-green algae is not the normal diet of most fish and because of this, they often overgrow and further stress the aquatic life.

As climate change continues to affect our planet and islands, it becomes increasingly crucial for drastic measures to be made. Actions to combat this can be through several strategies, such as reducing one’s carbon footprint, switching off and unplugging unused appliances and electronics, turning off your water, disposing of chemicals responsibly to lessen their run-off towards the ocean, and planting more greenery wherever possible, be it a community project or as home plants.

Having a healthy ecosystem for our marine wildlife is necessary in order to assure a stable economy. Local fisheries and environmental tourism heavily rely on local sea life for revenue. Being careful with how we interact in the environment has become that much more critical, no matter how small it may be, every act matters. Protecting our lagoons and reefs means ensuring a stable and healthy community.

Cerijean is a student at the Northern Marianas College and currently serves as a summer intern with the Division of Coastal Resources Management. This article is the first of a short series that discusses the significance of DCRM’s areas of particular concern and why these resources are subject to special management standards.