Please do not kick or stand on a coral reef! Stay 100 yards away from a whale, and never place your vessel between a mother and her calf. Never feed any marine creatures, including fish. These are just a few of the guidelines in CORAL's West Hawaii Voluntary Standards for Marine Tourism, recommendations for environmentally responsible behavior adopted by many of Hawai`i's marine recreation providers. Last year, CORAL expanded our training program on the standards, offering online as well as in-person trainings with the goal of reaching even more marine recreation staff.
Says CORAL's field rep in Hawai'i, Julia Stewart, "Many of the participating marine recreation providers are doing an excellent job upholding and instigating best practices for viewing the beautiful reefs and their inhabitants. But two of the companies-Kona Boys and Sea Quest-trained more than 75 percent of their crews this past year in addition to educating their guests about Hawaii's marine environment. We value their support and contribution to the community."
Says Pat Fields, the owner of Sea Quest, "We support the West Hawai`i Voluntary Standards because we want to preserve our environment and the unique ecosystem it supports for future generations of visitors and kama'aina to experience and enjoy."
Kona Boys will soon host a reef awareness program at Kamakahonu National Historic Landmark in Kailua-Kona. Owner Frank Carpenter says he wants to preserve the reefs because their "ohana (family) consists of lifelong watermen and women who share a passion and respect for the ocean and all that lives within."
The standards were developed by the community with CORAL's help and accepted by the community in 2009. Since then, CORAL has been continuing to promote them. All marine recreation providers that agree to adopt the standards receive a colorful educational flip chart to use to educate tourists about how to behave in the water and on the beach.
The following companies have also participated in CORAL trainings over the past three years:
Jack's Diving Locker
Adventures in Paradise
Ehu & Kai
Hawai'i Island & Ocean Tours
Hawai‘i Pack & Paddle
Kahalu'u Bay Education Center/ReefTeach
Puako Community Association
Wild Side Specialty Tours