The Hawaii Coral Reef Initiative
Past Priorities

Fiscal Year 2011

The Hawaii Coral Reef Initiative Management Committee invites student (graduate or undergraduate) research proposals beginning around October 15,2011 and running through August 15,2012. HCRI anticipates having approximately $38,000 (including mandatory 19% indirect added to direct costs) available. There is no assurance of long-term funding from HCRI. Therefore, the Management Committee would like to ensure that prospective applicants understand awards must complete the proposed scope of work within the timeframe covered by this RFP.

Research questions are open. Howerver, proposals must address a nearshore management problem in the main Hawaiian Islands.

Fiscal Year 2010

Priority Area A: Kahekili (Maui)

The Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) established an Herbivore Fisheries Management Area (HFMA) in the reef region adjoining Kahekili Beach Park in West Maui, effective July 25th 2009. The Kahekili HFMA was established to reverse the decline in coral cover and increase in algae documented by a decade of benthic community data. Resource managers predict herbivorous fish stocks at Kahekili will increase because of this new regulation prohibiting their take. HCRI funding supported characterization of the coastal benthic community at Kahekili regions of west Maui prior to implementation of HFMA and for one year after its closure. This year, HCRI is seeking proposals to monitor biological variables, including density and grazing intensity of herbivorous biota at multiple sites along the west Maui coastline, specifically Maalaea, Olowalu, and Kahekili. This would allow a comparative assessment of functional responses over time to the ban on herbivorous fish take to reduce invasive species impacts in these areas.

Priority Area B: Kona (Hawaii)

The Management Committee is seeking proposals to develop methods for preventing the introduction and spread of new invasive marine species. Specifically, HCRI is interested in proposals that examine the areas from Honokohau to Kawaihae for vulnerabilities to the spread of invasive marine algae, likely pathways of establishment, and recommendations on best practices and proactive policy actions that can be undertaken to avoid establishment and spread of such noxious species.

The HCRI management committee is also interested in proposals to further study the introduced grouper roi (Cephalopholis argus) in this same region. Based on previous studies sponsored by HCRI, the management committee is interested in research that would elucidate the role of roi predation in community structure and recruitment success of prey fishes. Prey fishes at this time appear to be able to cope with feeding pressure from roi, as their populations have been stable or increasing (HCRI unpublished data). Basic biology, behavior and ecology of roi on the reefs is of keen interest to resource managers. Interesting research questions that should be considered in the research proposal relate to the strong resilience of prey fishes to roi predation and an examination of how fish communities and their recruitment would change in the absence of roi.

Priority Area C: Kaneohe Bay (Oahu)

Kaneohe Bay, the largest estuarine bay with coral resources in the US, faces many challenges from watershed inputs from urbanization over the past 50 years. The Management Committee is interested in how point and nonpoint source pollutants affect Hawaii’s nearshore reefs. HCRI will consider proposals that will provide scientifically based and practical management recommendations for preventing marine pollution that negatively impacts coral reef ecosystems. The HCRI management committee seeks proposals for projects that will:

  • (1) Identify one-to-three catchments in this region that can be used to study mitigation options.
  • (2) Recommend practical management options to avoid, minimize, or mitigate negative impacts for each priority catchment; and
  • (3) Present the advantages and disadvantages for each management option and provide tools for evaluating the effectiveness of the management measures.

Fiscal Year 2009

Kahekili, Maui

1. Characterize public health issues from exposure to pathogens. Scientists have documented fecal coliforms from sewage may survive in tropical seawater up to four days. Anecdotal reports suggest that Maui ocean users may face high exposure to this type of pathogens (e.g, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA). The Management Committee seeks proposals that will characterize the threat to public health by identifying and enumerating water borne pathogens in the nearshore regions. Information should help resource managers better manage the threat to public safety along coastal Maui waters by providing assessments at sites and through time and with episodic rainfall events. Pre-proposals should, but not exclusively, address the following questions:

  • Which pathogens of concern are present in the nearshore waters off Kahekili?
  • What are the effects of salinity, sediment, ultraviolet radiation, and algal cover on the persistence of key pathogens of concern?
  • Do they replicate in the environment and thus, continuously cycle through the nearshore water column?
  • What is the relationship between their presence and disease incidence amongst swimmers?
  • Do these pathogens affect coastal reef resources?

2. Define public education initiative to reduce contaminant load within special management area. Scientific research and anecdotal evidence has led to an increased understanding of the vulnerability of nearshore waters to pollutants, particularly from herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers overapplied within the special management area (SMA). The Management Committee seeks proposals to develop a detailed plan for a targeted awareness campaign for Kahekili’s SMA and related marine protected areas (e.g., Honolua Marine Life Conservation District). Information should help resource managers by providing a plan of action and baseline information for future implementation of an outreach endeavor to improve nearshore water quality by lessening inputs from the region’s SMA. Pre-proposals should, but not exclusively, address the following tasks: Inventory activities of concern.

  • Define measures of success that would necessarily involve reductions in stressors.
  • Analyze baseline awareness.
  • Build partnerships with key agencies (e.g., Maui County Planning Department, state Department of Agriculture) and stakeholders (e.g., land owners, landscapers).

3. Develop a research plan to characterize natural breakdown of wastewater pollutants. The wastewater plume from the county injection well is Lahaina is largely unmapped as it moves toward the shore. from groundwater wells and springs within it. Sites sampling groundwater wells and springs could help define plume dimensions. The Management Committee seeks proposals to develop a detailed plan to help determine this plume’s dimensions and rates of movement as an aide to resource managers developing discharge permit limits. Pre-proposals should, but not exclusively, address the following tasks:

  • Discern what pollutants are present.
  • Identify key pollutants of concern.
  • Recommend which are unique indicators of domestic sewage versus
  • eutrophication from other sources.
  • Detail measurable objectives and develop protocols.
  • Establish baseline information.
  • Specify analyses to be done and steps to do so, such as whether key indicators replicate in the environment from each plume (Lahaina, Kihei, and Kahului).

Maunalua Bay, Oahu

4. Conduct retrospective analysis of sediment cores. Sediments of Maunalua Bay contain a history of deposition and discharge. The Management Committee seeks proposals that will provide Information about sediment changes in quantity and quality. Information should help resource managers develop target values for bay restoration and provide the necessary baseline information to measure success. Pre-proposals should, but not exclusively, address the following questions:

  • What changes have occurred in sediment quantity over time?
  • Has grain size or composition shifted over time?
  • Have contaminants associated with sediments changed with time?

Pre-proposals should build upon on-going work funded by others in Maunalua Bay. This complementary research includes:

  • pinpointing primary sources of sediments, current sediment transport, and the effect of sediment on corals and collecting and analyzing cores near Kuliouou.

5. Examine heavy metal sources, distribution, and kinetics. Heavy metals, such as lead, cadmium, and mercury, discharge into Maunalua Bay and may affect its biota. The Management Committee seeks proposals that will address how environmental fluctuations affect contaminate accumulation. Information should help resource managers establish mitigation responses to reduce heavy metal impacts on the bay’s flora and fauna. Pre-proposals should, but not exclusively, address the following questions:

  • Are heavy metals being taken up by organisms (e.g., bivalves, algae)?
  • If so, what (if any) problems does bioaccumulation cause? Are there seasonal changes in bioaccumulation?
  • If there are problems, what practical mitigation response is recommended?

Pre-proposals should build upon on-going work funded by others in Maunalua Bay. This complementary research includes:

  • analyzing key contaminants, heavy metals, and gradients of toxicants at several locations along the bay and investigating baseline heavy metal deposition and uptake in invertebrates and algae.

6. Investigate nutrient sources, inputs, and kinetics. Nutrient inputs into the bay are hypothesized to have increased algal blooms and decreased overall water quality. The Management Committee seeks proposals that will identify main nutrient inputs into the bay from both surface and aquifer discharges and the land-based sources. Information should help resource managers better understand the relative impacts of nutrients on the Maunalua Bay ecosystem and evaluate the relative value of management measures that would reduce the introduction of nutrients into the bay. Pre-proposals should, but not exclusively, address the following questions:

  • How to stop upland inputs that contribute to algal growth?
  • What are estimates of nutrient loads from various land uses and nutrient sources (concentration x flow)?

Pre-proposals should build upon on-going work funded by others in Maunalua Bay. This complementary research includes island wide studies examining nutrient discharges into coastal waters.

7. Assess water quality within Hawaii Kai Marina and its discharge. The Hawaii Kai Marina feeds into Maunalua Bay and receives watershed discharges that are affecting water quality and ecology. The Management Committee seeks proposals to develop a pollutant budget for Hawaii Kai Marina. Information should help resource managers reduce point and nonpoint source pollution problems. Pre-proposals should, but not exclusively, address the following items:

  • Develop pollutant budget that includes pollutant inputs from various streams, groundwater, and other sources.
  • Examine the movement and export of pollutants to Moanalua Bay.
  • Estimate changes in budget during both dry and wet weather.
  • Pre-proposals should build upon on-going work funded by others in Maunalua Bay.
  • This complementary research includes data collected on water quality in the marina.

Maunalua Bay and Barber’s Point, Oahu

8. Research algal dynamics. Fleshy algae cover large areas of the bottom in Maunalua Bay and elsewhere on Oahu. These plants are thought to retain sediment that is re-suspended during wave and rainfall events. Algal biomass is also affecting biological oxygen demand and the abundance of organic detritus in Maunalua Bay as well as apparently out-competing the endemic seagrass Halophila hawaiiana. The Management Committee seeks proposals that will build partnerships with resource managers in addressing this alga. Information should help resource managers mitigate the impact of this alga in diverse regions from Barber’s Point to Maunalua Bay. Pre- proposals should, but not exclusively, address the following items:

  • Build an island-wide response for the invasive alga Avrainvillea amadelpha.
  • Support reductions in its fleshy biomass.
  • Plan for restoration efforts.
  • Pre-proposals should build upon on-going work funded by others in Maunalua Bay.
  • This complementary research includes ongoing studies on the impacts and characteristics of Avrainvillea amadelpha.

Fiscal Year 2006

For its Year 9, FY2004 program, the US Congress appropriated $1,500,000 in support for the Hawaii Coral Reef Initiative Research Program of which $1,206,000 was made available, with $974,000 going to research and monitoring activities, $274,000 to outreach and education and the remainder to program administration. While the amount of funding devoted to monitoring and research projects has declined as a percentage of the total funds available, the number of projects and the scope of the program has actually expanded. This is true, in part, because a number of project activities have been managed out of the program budget. The program has also been able to leverage its funds against other private, state, and federal funding sources and a number of the research and monitoring activities originally funded by HCRI are still functioning with funds from other sources. Moreover, program staff have taken on the more responsibility for the dissemination of results.

The Management Committee identified the following priorities for year 9:

  • Native biotic reefs and closely related aquatic habitats
  • Fishing pressure
  • Nearshore recreation
  • Pollution
  • Population and oceanographic dynamics
  • Increasing access to nearshore science for Hawaii’s children and the local community
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Fiscal Year 2005

For its Year 8, FY2004 program, the US Congress appropriated $1,500,000 in support for the Hawaii Coral Reef Initiative Research Program of which $1,441,485 was made available, with $1,029,023 going to research and monitoring activities, $274,000 to outreach and education and the remainder to program administration.

The Management Committee Identified the following priorities for Year 8:

  • Non-economic value of the main Hawaiian Islands' coastal reefs
  • Stressors of coastal reefs surrounding the main Hawaiian Islands
  • Status of coastal reefs surrounding the main Hawaiian Islands
  • Population and oceanographic dynamics of the coastal reefs surrounding the main Hawaiian Islands
  • Regulatory review
  • Increasing access to nearshore science for Hawaii’s children and the local community
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Fiscal Year 2004

For its Year 7, FY2004 program, the US Congress appropriated $1,250,000 in support for the Hawaii Coral Reef Initiative Research Program of which $1,206,000 was made available, with $974,000 going to research and monitoring activities, $179,000 to outreach and education and the remainder to program administration.

The Management Committee Identified the following priorities for Year 7:

  • Non-economic value of the main Hawaiian Islands' coastal reefs
  • Stressors of coastal reefs surrounding the main Hawaiian Islands
    • Alien and invasive species
    • Fishing pressure
    • Water pollution
    • Climatic impacts
    • Ocean recreation
  • Status of coastal reefs surrounding the main Hawaiian Islands
  • "Gaming" the nearshore reefs surrounding the main Hawaiian Islands
  • Population dynamics of the coastal reefs surrounding the main Hawaiian Islands
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Fiscal Year 2003

For its Year 6, FY2003 program, the US Congress appropriated $994,000 in support for the Hawaii Coral Reef Initiative Research Program of which $963,400 was made available, with $635,260 going to research and monitoring activities, $222,000 to outreach and education and the remainder to program administration.

The Management Committee Identified the following priorities for Year 6:

  • Investigate aquaculture in support of control and eradication of coastal reef alien species.
  • Monitor and assess the impact of alien species.
  • Prevent alien species’ entry to Hawaiian waters.
  • Evaluate Hawaii’s permitting procedures for the importation of coastal reef alien species.
  • Research causes of decline of near-shore fish stock: overfishing or poor water quality.
  • Assess the non-economic value of main Hawaiian Islands’ coastal reefs.
  • Develop diagnostic tools to identify infectious disease in corals.
  • Improve understanding of population structure and recruitment of keystone reef organisms
  • Enhance monitoring and assessment
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Fiscal Year 2002

For its FY2002 program, the US Congress appropriated $1 million in support for the Hawaii Coral Reef Initiative Research Program of which $975,600 was made available, with $738,000 going to research and monitoring activities.

The Management Committee Identified the following priorities for Year 5:

  • Survey MHI nearshore waters to produce a synoptic summary of alien and invasive species
  • Assess the impacts of alien and invasive marine species
  • Identify potential sources of alien and invasive species found and recommend responses
  • Determine pollutant tolerance for tropical species.
  • Analyze stormwater runoff.
  • Improve understanding of population structure and recruitment of keystone reef organisms
  • Enhance monitoring and assessment
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Fiscal Year 2001

For its FY2001 program, the US Congress appropriated $1 million in support for the Hawaii Coral Reef Initiative Research Program of which $973,600 was available. The HCRI-RP Management Committee applied $766,000 toward research and monitoring activities. There was a decrease in funding for research and monitoring because HCRI-RP administration underwent a dramatic transformation, increasing responsibilities and complexities. The program administration grew by one full-time staff member and a student help to assist in using the results of the sponsored projects to develop reports, sponsor trainings and workshops and conduct public education activities. Funding was also made available to build a program website, design a program brochure and poster, all with the intent of increasing our ability to increase public education and awareness. Lastly, the increase in program administration budget was used to contract a public education and awareness company to help write and distribute news releases about our projects. We issued 10 news releases which sparked over 35 newspaper and magazine articles and approximately 10 television news stories that featured our program and sponsored projects. This program increase was encouraged by the principal investigators.

The Management Committee Identified the following priorities for Year 4:

  • Assess the economic value of Hawaii’s various coral reef ecosystems.
  • Examine the linkage between land-based activities and coral reef ecosystem degradation.
  • Analyze historical variability of coral reef ecosystems.
  • Investigate techniques to remove alien and invasive algae threatening coral reef ecosystems.
  • Enhance monitoring and assessment
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Fiscal Year 2000

For its FY2000 program, the US Congress appropriated $1 million of which $901,400 was made available for the Hawaii Coral Reef Initiative Research Program, almost twice the amount available for the previous year. This increase allowed the Management Committee to double the amount allocated for monitoring and research. The Hawaii Coral Reef Initiative Research Program’s Management Committee made approximately $800,000 available for monitoring and research activities during FY00-01, selected through an open, competitive, and peer-reviewed process.

The Management Committee Identified the following priorities for Year 3:

  • Enhance monitoring and assessment capacity.
  • Develop monitoring and assessment techniques for NWHI.
  • Conduct research and make policy recommendations on land-coastal zone processes.
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Fiscal Year 1999

For its second year, the US Congress appropriated $500,000 for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to support HCRI-RP research and monitoring activities.

The HCRI-RP Management Committee allocated $440,000 for projects and identified the following research and monitoring priorities:

  • Expand monitoring activities.
  • Assess impacts of nearshore fishing and aquarium fish collection.
  • Investigate effects of alien and invasive species.
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Fiscal Year 1998

A total of 29 pre-proposals were received in the first year solicitation. Four pre-proposals were selected to be developed into full proposals and were eventually funded. Out of $475,000 available, $425,000 went to sponsor monitoring and research activities.

  • Research and monitoring to build capacity to manage Hawaii’s coral reef ecosystems.
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