Text by Joe Battle
Home to 84 percent of American coral, Hawaii is a must-see destination for snorkelers and divers who come to see the spectacular marine life. Healthy coral reefs are essential to Hawaii's ecosystem—and its number one industry, tourism. To ensure their future, the State of Hawaii is cracking down to protect its greatest resource.
A recent article in the New York Times, “Ruining Coral Draws Fines in Hawaii,” discusses the hefty fines that Hawaii is giving out to anyone who causes damage. No exceptions, not even the US Navy, which the state plans to sue over coral ruined when a guided missile cruiser ran aground near Pearl Harbor in February.
Initially, Hawaii decided to educate people on the consequences of damaging coral rather than using fines. Clearly the polite route did not have as much of an effect as hitting the offenders where it hurts… their wallets. Now tourists and tour companies alike will have to tread carefully unless they want to pay the big bucks.