Friday, February 12, 1999

No more free fishfood
at Hanauma Bay

Hungry fish will need to fend for
themselves under a new policy

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


The popular pastime of feeding fish at the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve soon will end.

The state Board of Land and Natural Resources today voted unanimously to ban fish-feeding at the underwater sanctuary.

Land Board staff and others say the activity has caused overpopulation of the bay and altered its ecosystem by allowing two species of fish that have adapted easiest to the feeding to dominate.

The policy is expected to go into effect within the next three months or so, after a legal review and signing by Gov. Ben Cayetano.

Alton Miyasaka, an aquatic biologist with the board's Division of Aquatic Resources, said a typical marine sanctuary the size of Hanauma carries between 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of fish per acre.

The lure of easy sustenance has brought more than 3,000 pounds to Hanauma, Miyasaka said.

While there are no precise data, overpopulation likely has contributed to a reduction in algae and coral growth, he said.

Fish-feeding frenzy has led to domination by the two larger species most adaptable to "Cheese Whiz and bento lunches," Miyasaka said.

The nenue and the pualu have driven out other fish that once were seen regularly in the bay.

Officials hope a ban will mean the return of more butterfly fish, damsel fish, wrasse and goat fish.

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