Help Coral in Hawaii's State Marine Parks Live

Help Coral in Hawaii's State Marine Parks Live

December 6, 2022
Petition to
Chair Person Suzanne Case and 3 others
Signatures: 57Next Goal: 100
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Why this petition matters

Started by Rebecca Melendez

Hawai'i’s coral is a huge economic resource in all of Hawai'i and on the Big Island, Kealakeakua Bay is one of the most popular marine sanctuaries for local businesses. Unfortunately, for years the coral has had many factors of why it is dyeing and one major reason is the Crown of Thorns starfish. 

Watch my video to see Kealakeakua Bay's coral condition in certain areas

Please see other Big Island petitions at where you can help support the island and other locals. Thank you

I have worked in the bay for almost 10 years scuba diving and I have watched the Crown of Thorns (COTS) eating the coral away in this very sacred and economic treasure to the community on the Big Island. 

I have spoken with DLNR Aquatics several times throughout the years, letting them know what I have witnessed with regard to the damage that the COTS have done in the bay and that I would be happy to take on a program to keep the COTS out of Kealakeakua Bay because the COTS are the one factor that we can try and control to help save our reefs because COTS are one major reason the reefs are being destroyed. 

A COTS removal program in Hawai'i could be similar to Australia's program for the Great Barrier Reef or a program that is similar to Guam's COTS removal program, but unfortunately, the DLNR Aquatics do not believe 10 or fewer COTS are doing any damage in the Kealakeakua Bay. 

Please watch my video and you will see the devastation that the COTS have done in the bay and are still doing to this bay every day. I filmed this video last month in November 2022. Go to

In Australia, they have a COTS program to help “reduces coral loss from COTS outbreaks at high-value reefs. Every day, 5 vessels and 100+ divers are out on the Reef to survey and remove Crown-of-thorns Starfish.”

Australia believes, "COTS are pests" as they told me in an email conversation we had as I was doing my research. They have a program that involves local boat business operators who contribute to helping “Reduce coral mortality from COTS outbreaks at high-value reefs. More partners involved in COTS management (including Traditional Owners).”

If we start a COTS Removal program now, then if there is ever a serious outbreak of COTS we will be ready. 

Having local boat businesses help remove COTS like Australia does will help reduce the cost from the government and helps the local boat businesses stay in business by being able to help stop the coral from being eaten away by the Crown of Thorns because boat businesses need healthy coral that their guests can enjoy. With only debris, there will be no fish to enjoy either.   

This is Australia’s program:

Guam also has a Crown of Thorns removal program. “The Guam Crown-of-Thorns sea star (COTS) Outbreak Response Plan was developed collaboratively by multiple local and federal agencies, including the Bureau of Statistics and Plans (BSP) and the Guam Coastal Management Program (GCMP), the Guam Department of Agriculture's (GDOAG) Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources…”

There are a lot of things out of our control that kills coral, that we do not have control over like the water temperature but we do have control over keeping coral safe from COTS and that is what this petition is for because Kealakeakua Bay is a very small area compared to the Great Barrier Reef and it has “residential” COTS that currently live there. 

Residential COTS are COTS that "Nocturnal by nature, COTS can move at speeds of up to 20 metres an hour. COTS prey on nearly all corals and can eat their way through 10 square metres of it a year. COTS are covered in spikes containing toxins that are venomous to both humans and marine creatures."

You will see that some COTS leave trails of what they have eaten and some coral just looks white or melted. I believe the COTS can leave trails because after they eat, their weight can sometimes break off the coral causing debris. This is my opinion.

Their numbers are few in Kealakeakua Bay but they are eating the coral during the day when I am working as I have seen them, and they are also eating at night as well.

COTS eat and eat the coral until it turns into debris. This is what I have witnessed for almost 10 years.

This is what I have seen happen with my eyes and witnessed happening for years, and now after years of watching them eat the coral away, there are now many huge areas that are completely debris with no living coral at all, and fish barely swim over these areas because there is nothing there for them to eat or create a home in.

We can help Kealakeakua Bay and all other marine sanctuaries in Hawai'i by creating a program like Australia’s where local boat businesses can dive and take out the COTS in order to keep these sacred and very high-value marine sanctuaries as alive as we can keep them for more generations to enjoy before it’s mostly debris and not coral due to the residential COTS and other factors.

We can stop the COTS from eating away Kealakeakua Bay and other marine parks if we stand together and STRONGLY REQUEST that a COTS Removal Program be created for all our marine sanctuaries because it takes hours for COTS to eat coral away and it takes years for it to possibly come back if it can. 

Please sign and let the DLNR Aquatics in Hawai'i know that we need to start a similar program of COTS removal in Kealakeakua Bay and all other state marine sanctuaries because our state sanctuaries are high-value to our local business and a special treasure for everyone.

A program that is similar to that of Australias and Guams will help keep our local snorkeling and diving businesses alive and prospering because if we can help keep reefs as alive as possible then we should help the coral as best we can. It is our resource and it is our responsibility to help it if we can. 

A sanctuary is keeping life going, and having it be a law that nothing can be touched in a marine sanctuary means allowing the COTS to live in these sanctuaries and condemning coral to die daily by allowing the COTS to live off of the coral because COTS eat coral. COTS should not be allowed to live in Hawai'i marine park sanctuaries because they are killing the coral and that is not what a sanctuary is for. 

A program that will let the local boat businesses be involved in stopping our corals from being eaten away by being able to remove COTS has been long overdue. It is time to HELP SAVE OUR HAWAI'I MARINE SANCTUARIES! 

Thank you!

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Signatures: 57Next Goal: 100
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Decision Makers

  • Suzanne CaseChair Person
  • Brian Neilson
  • Mitch Roth
  • Govenor Josh Green