|Hawaiian Islands (U.S.A.)|
Maragos, J.E. (2000). Hawaiian Islands (U.S.A.), in: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 2. Regional chapters: The Indian Ocean to The Pacific. pp. 791-812
In: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) (2000). Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 2. Regional chapters: The Indian Ocean to The Pacific. Pergamon: Amsterdam. ISBN 0-08-043207-7. XXI, 920 pp., more
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|Document type: Review|
The Hawaiian Islands are the fifth largest in terms of land area (16,643 km2), and with 1.3 million people, the second most populous of the archipelagos in the tropical Pacific. The principal islands are in two groups: eight large and several smaller volcanic islands in the warmer southeast end of the chain where the human population is concentrated, and very small volcanic and coral islands and atolls to the northwest which are uninhabited or sparsely inhabited. Marine biodiversity is high in terms of habitat quantity , variety , and degree of endemism but lower in terms of species richness. Hawai'i is geographically the most isolated island chain in the world. The people rely heavily on air and sea transportation for maintaining an economy dependent on tourism, military expenditures, and agriculture. The population has expanded rapidly since World War ll, with three-fourths residing on O'ahu, and most living in or near the main city of Honolulu. During the earlier part of this century , plantation agriculture (sugar cane, pineapple), ranching, grazing of feral animals, military construction, and transportation projects changed the marine environment via the draining of wetlands, dredging and filling coastal areas, and the flushing of eroded soils. Urbanization now fuels coastal construction, resort and golf course development, increased coastal pollution, coastal flooding, sedimentation, and overfishing in nearshore waters. Alien and invasive species, derelict fishing gear, shark finning, and depletion of fish stocks are now emerging as major marine environmental concerns, along with poorly regulated aquarium fish collection, ship groundings, anchor damage, and overuse of popular coastal parks, beaches, and nearshore reefs. The endemic monk.seal and many seabirds are being threatened by commercial fishing off remote reefs. Green sea turtles are afflicted with a poorly understood disease. The incidence of coral bleaching and diseases appears to be increasing, although existing levels are low. Hawai'i contains 84% of all reefs under U.S. jurisdiction, accounting for 17,520 km2 of habitat above a depth of 200 m. The northwest islands account for 82% of the Hawaiian total. Together with adjacent beaches and waters, the reefs support millions of dollars of economic activity, including marine and coastal tourism, sport-fishing, subsistence fishing, commercial fishing, commercial and recreational boating, scientific research, and mariculture development. The coral reefs also afford natural protection and anchorages for boats, and protect coastal property and beaches from the damaging effects of tropical storms and large waves. Extensive local, state, and federal environmental legislation and regulations exist, and there are adequate controls over solid waste, coastal water pollution, further draining or loss of wetlands, and coastal construction. The state and the four county governments, with federal support, have active programs that regulate development in the coastal zone. The network of federal and state marine and coastal protected areas is substantial, especially in the northwest islands. Sustainable fisheries management, increased community-based management of coastal areas in the main islands, public education, additional marine protected areas, and increased monitoring and enforcement pose as the major future challenges for conserving marine ecosystems in Hawai'i.