Respecting Coral Reefs Signage Project
Contact: Liz Foote (Hawaii Field Manager, Coral Reef Alliance; Executive Director, Project S.E.A.-Link)
Phone: (808) 669-9062 (home/office); (808) 283-1631 (mobile)
Email: Lfoote (at) hawaii.rr.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Maui, Hawaii - Wednesday, May 28 - Maui residents may have noticed signs entitled “Respecting Coral Reefs” being installed at locations across the island. What started as an effort to develop interpretive signage for Honolua Bay has evolved into a statewide “Adopt-a-Sign” program. The team behind these signs would like to thank the current Maui-based sponsors and invite others throughout Hawaii to sponsor more sign installations at appropriate locations.
This project began in mid-2006, when a set of four interpretive signs were observed at Kealakekua Bay on Hawaii Island. The site-specific sign presented an aerial view of the bay, and denoted the habitat types and particular species of marine life found there. It also highlighted the protected status of the bay. This sign inspired the development of an interpretive sign for Honolua Bay Marine Life Conservation District with similar components. In addition, a separate sign was designed to promote coral reef stewardship.
“Respecting Coral Reefs" teaches visitors and residents how they can respect and help protect the delicate coral reef ecosystem. It presents stewardship messages in a positive manner, and also highlights coral reef inhabitants and their ecological roles. The etiquette component focuses on three messages: “Corals Are Alive,” “Fish Don’t Need Feeding,” and “Respect Marine Life.”
The content of both signs was developed by the design team of Liz Foote (Hawaii field manager for the Coral Reef Alliance and executive director of Project S.E.A.-Link), Megan Webster (Makai Stewardship coordinator, Maui Land & Pineapple Co., Inc.), and Russell Sparks (education specialist, Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources), with extensive input from many individuals, organizations, and agencies statewide. The graphic design was done by Geoff Moore of Silver Moon Art and Design, and the beautiful images were donated by photographers across the state (Mike Roberts of Reeflections Underwater Photography, Brandoch Calef, Heather Spalding, John Hoover, George Balazs, Ziggy Livnat, Russell Sparks, and Liz Foote). Photographers Roberts and Calef in particular went above and beyond to contribute to this project, making several trips to Honolua Bay to capture specific images for the signs.
The Reef Etiquette sign was intentionally designed to be general enough to apply anywhere in the state, and through the “Adopt-a-Sign” program, may be sponsored by third parties and installed at sites where people can benefit from reef etiquette tips. Sponsors will be acknowledged for their significant contribution (each sign costs around $1,650) by the incorporation of their logo onto the sign itself.
Sponsors will be responsible for: (1) determining whether a sign is appropriate in the desired location (obtaining community support), (2) investigating whether a permit or special permission of any kind is necessary for the selected site, (3) obtaining the needed approval from the agency whose jurisdiction the site falls under, and (4) installing the sign at its location. On Maui, more than twenty Reef Etiquette signs have been sponsored by various organizations, agencies, business, and individuals (see complete list below); installation services for several signs were donated by Wailea Community Association, and Bob & Lis Richardson arranged for the installation of the Kihei Community Association’s sign at Kamaole III Beach Park. A blessing for the sign at Kamaole III Beach Park was recently coordinated by its sponsor, the Kihei Community Association, and was conducted by Kimokeo Kapahulehua and his halau on Thursday, May 15.
There may still be locations across Maui where signs could be installed, but the Adopt-a-Sign program is now expanding statewide; potential sponsors may contact Liz Foote for more information. The design team is also seeking additional installation sponsors for this project such as construction companies or individual contractors, who can assist the other sponsors with installation of their signs.
Thanks to support from Community Work Day (via a grant from the State of Hawaii), the sign is also available as a poster that can be displayed by businesses, organizations, or schools to be used for educational purposes; please contact Liz Foote for more information on obtaining this free resource.
List of Reef Etiquette Sign Locations & Sponsors:
Honolua Bay, Kapalua Bay, Mokuleia Bay, & Lahaina Harbor (sign “design team” members CORAL, Project S.E.A.-Link and ML&P, with additional funding from Hawaii Tourism Authority and Tiffany & Co. Foundation); Wailea Beach (Wailea Community Association); Kamaole III Beach Park (Kihei Community Association); Kamaole I Beach Park (Jilly Goldman, Century 21); Keawakapu I and Maluaka Beach (County of Maui Office of Economic Development); Ulua Beach Park (Pacific Whale Foundation); Ahihi Kina’u Natural Area Reserve (2 signs; Department of Land and Natural Resources) Olowalu mile marker 14 (Kaanapali Beach Hotel; pending site approval); Napili Bay (funded by Island Spirit Yoga & hosted by Napili Bay Resort); Makena Landing (Keli’i’s Kayak Tours); an additional Makena location (TBD) by anonymous donors; and five signs on individual resorts’ private property, each funded by the following members of the Kaanapali Beach Resort Association: Sheraton Maui; Marriott Maui Ocean Club; Kaanapali Alii; Kaanapali Beach Hotel (purchased two; one for Olowalu); and the Westin Maui.
Full List of Quotes from Sign Sponsors:
“It's truly a pleasure and a source of great professional satisfaction to partner together with our Hawaii colleagues on a project that demonstrates such broad conservation impact as achieved with the coral reef etiquette signs. We are tremendously grateful to the investment in this project by The Tiffany & Co. Foundation in allowing CORAL to help realize these interpretive signs as an investment in Hawaii's ecological future.”
-Rick MacPherson, Director of Conservation Programs, Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL)
“The Kihei Community Association believes that a part of our obligation is to protect the vital natural resources in the South Maui area. Once we became aware of this program, the board of directors unanimously approved a solicitation of funds from supporters to sponsor a reef etiquette sign to be placed at a beach location. Thanks to the generous support of our community, we will place ours right at a beach access to Kamaole Beach Park III, adjacent to the life guard tower, where it will be highly visible, and permit observers to talk with ocean activity officers to obtain more information."
-Mike Moran, KCA Board Member
“The signs really work. I must admit I was a bit apprehensive about their potential impact. We installed Reef Etiquette signs at Wailea Beach, Ulua Beach, and as of this morning, Keawekapu-1. Almost everyone (99%) who walk by these signs, actually stop to read them. Definitely one of the best bang-for-your-buck marine conservation/education investments you can make.”
-Terry Hunt, Operations Manager, Wailea Community Association
"As Director of Operations for the 20th Anniversary of EarthDay Chicago, I was made keenly aware of the need for public information. Our motto was "Who says we I can't make a difference?" My participation in this sign gives me the opportunity to give back to Maui, my home, my love."
-Jilly Goldman, Realtor-Broker, Century 21 All Islands
“Island Spirit Yoga believes in honoring the sacred elements within our island environment. The ocean, beaches and reefs are vital resources and we are dedicated to their protection for the enjoyment of our local and global community. Through our participation in the Reef Etiquette Program, Island Spirit Yoga hopes to promote a sense of harmony, balance and peace between the public and our reefs.”
-Mahalo Nui Loa, Greg Ruzicka, Deborah DiPierro and Christy of Island Spirit Yoga
"Sheraton Maui Resort is pleased to take part in this vital program designed to gain the attention of both visitors and Kama‘aina to reiterate the importance of respecting the ecological balance that makes Hawaii so unique."
- Chip Bahouth, General Manager of the Sheraton Maui Resort
“A few words from us here at Kelii's Kayak Tours, which echo the sentiments of all our staff and guides: Educating people on how to respect and treat our valuable marine resources, including the importance of preserving our reefs is a big part of what our business is based on. Having a sign ' Respecting Coral Reefs ' on the beach for the public to view fits right in with our overall philosophy that education is a critical tool for protecting our marine resources for the future.” -Anne Taylor, Owner of Kelii’s Kayak Tours
“As Maui County celebrates the 2008 International Year of the Reef, the Adopt-a-Sign program is making wonderful contributions to many communities with the installation of its Reef Etiquette signs. We are fortunate to have conservation leaders such as Liz Foote who are working so diligently to increase awareness about Maui's coral reefs and their need for better protection. The Kihei Community Association is to be applauded for its ongoing efforts to keep its members actively involved and informed about the issues affecting their community. We sincerely appreciate their contribution to the South Maui community with their sponsorship of a Reef Etiquette sign at Kamaole III Beach Park, as well as the contributions of all the other sign sponsors across Maui."
-Kuhea Paracuelles, Environmental Coordinator, Office of the Mayor
“Congratulations on the completion of the signs! They look fabulous, and are a positive step towards educating the public. Ironically, I was diving at Kahekili beach just a few days ago, and observed 2 divers (dive master, and a tourist) touching and grabbing live coral throughout their dive. After they surfaced and took off their gear, I had a friendly conversation with them about coral reefs, i.e. that coral is alive and can be damaged when it's touched. It would have been helpful to have had a sign, such as the one you developed, near the beach to point them towards and use as the basis of a conversation about coral reef etiquette. The signs will no doubt be helpful to future divers, dive masters, or dive instructors for de-briefings about coral reefs before they hop in the water. Coral reef health is declining at many sites around Maui, and we need to make every effort to encourage proper coral reef etiquette to minimize our impact on Maui's coral reefs. Many people are unaware of the negative effects they can have on coral reef organisms. Touching, standing on, brushing against or handling coral reef organisms can be dangerous both for the person and the coral reef. These signs will be a tremendous help towards educating the general public, and thus helping our reefs!”
-Heather Spalding, PhD Candidate, University of Hawaii (who also donated image of the alga Halimedia, her research focus, for the Honolua Bay sign)
"For the past seven or so years, Pacific Whale Foundation has been offering a free Onsite Coral Reef Naturalist program at Ulua Beach in Wailea, to educate snorkelers about eco-friendly reef exploration," says Anne Rillero, Communications Director at Pacific Whale Foundation. "We were very happy to donate the money to put in a Reef Etiquette sign at this location; it supports our goal of educating the public about protecting the reefs at this very popular snorkeling and diving spot."
-Anne Rillero, PWF Communications Director
“There are so many things that are eating away at the health of our reefs that sometimes it seems that it is impossible to turn it all around. I know that educating typical beach users with signs is only a small step in the overall picture but at least it is a step in the right direction. Hopefully, greater awareness in general will eventually help to change some of the larger issues like coastal overdevelopment and island waste management.”
-Mike Roberts, owner of Reeflections Underwater Photography and donor of many of the images used for the signs