Coral Reef Ecosystems, Water Quality, and Upland Activities

Coral Reef Ecosystems, Water Quality, and Upland Activities

The health of beaches is closely tied to the health of the coral reef ecosystem, which is itself closely tied to upland land practices. Hence, effective beach management requires a geographically broader approach
known as integrated coastal zone management. Although this report has focused mainly on the shoreline area-the beach, the dunes, and the coastal plain-we have included some recommendations for more effective protection of the coral reef ecosystem and better management of upland land practices.In many cases, improper control of runoff at agricultural lands and construction sites, even those far from the coast, has degraded the water quality of coastal areas. For example, recent construction without adequate erosion control measures for the Maui Ocean Center has led to frequent silt plumes in Ma’alaea Bay and negative impacts on the coral reef. Silt diminishes light penetration and eventually settles out on
the seafloor. This harms coral and other marine organisms (e.g.,
foraminifera, an important component of beach sand) and limits safe and enjoyable ocean recreation. Runoff also transports nutrients, pesticides,
and other pollutants to coastal waters compounding the impacts on water quality. [excerpt from the “Beach Management Plan for Maui”]