the Maui Reef Fund

Maui Reef Fund

by Ed Robinson

Link to Maui Reef Fund

A number of years ago a collective of dive and snorkel operators, educators, and conservationist were called together to explore the feasibility of creating an organization dedicated to protecting the ocean through funds donated by resource users. The result of this collaboration is the Maui Reef Fund (MRF.)

Since its inception about five years ago the MRF has continually interfaced with the community through educational projects, ocean clean-ups, mooring installation and maintenance and recently the creation of  “Voluntary Standards for Environmentally Sustainable SCUBA Diving Practices” which has been adopted by the State wide HIRSA (Hawaii Island Recreational SCUBA Association) organization.

Mooring installation

ERDA has been involved with Maui Reef Fund from its inception and currently donates $1 per diver per day to the fund. You might ask what becomes of the money once MRF receives it?  Funds have been distributed to numerous educational projects and has supported a few members in lobbying efforts to create reef protection legislation, however the dominant expenditures have been absorbed by the Maui Day Use Mooring project.

The DLNR (Dept. of Land and Natural Resources) has stated the protection of natural resources is its highest priority and has even started levying massive fines for coral reef damage. However the State has yet to allocate the funding necessary to place and maintain public use moorings which are necessary for reef protection, including the popular dive and snorkel sites. The first project the MRF has taken on is installing and maintaining moorings around Maui County. MRF works closely with the Big Island’s Malama Kai organization in acquiring Federal and State permits to install moorings in new locations. However the predominant work is maintaining and re-installing the existing damaged moorings. It is noteworthy to mention that MRF members have donated their boats and labor throughout this mooring project. Some of the mooring repair materials are donated by members (and occasionally the State) and the rest is purchased through MRF funds.

Maui Day-Use Moorings

If you are interested in the locations and status of the Maui County moorings I have created an online database with this information. There is even a link to a Google map for each buoy. You can find the database here and log in as a guest.

So what is next? In addition to the ongoing directives of education and the mooring project another large and exciting project (in my opinion) is acquiring artificial reefs AKA wrecks! This is a much more expensive project so it is continuously being pushed to the bottom of the “do now” list but as funds are accumulated it becomes more feasible.

Maui Reef Fund BC Tag

You can help! In addition to the $1 per day you already donate you can speed the process along by donating more. For $5 (or more) you will receive a Maui Reef Fund BC tag. A great way to remind you of your Maui dives and let other divers know you are helping protect the reef.  You can mail us a check for $5 and we will pay the postage back to you. But the quickest way is to use the online donation form located on the “Hawaii Wildlife Fund” website (which is the umbrella 501c non-profit organization the MRF is under.)

But whatever you decide your daily donation is already helping the ocean and we thank you from the bottom of the reef.

Photo-Zoom Images by Randsco