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Education Program History
The City and County of Honolulu's Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve has always been reveled for its beautiful, serene surroundings. It is home to some of the most colorful, unique marine life in the world, and because of its declaration as Hawai'i's first Marine Life Conservation District in 1967, it is one of the premier snorkeling locations in the main Hawaiian Islands.
Over the years Hanauma Bay's popularity grew to gigantic proportions. It became known as must-see visitor destination for the island of Oahu. During peak periods, the nature preserve saw as many as 10,000 visitors each day. The bay was heavily impacted by overuse and a lack of knowledge of how to protect such an ecosystem.
The City and County of Honolulu and a grassroots organization consisting of concerned citizens decided something needed to be done. In 1990, an 8-point management plan was initiated which decreased the number of visitors to approximately 3,000 - 3,500 per day, yet problems persisted due to a lack of understanding of how to protect this valuable resource.
The University of Hawai'i Sea Grant College Program followed the plight of Hanauma Bay with the intent of initiating a beach-site education program aimed at promoting conservation among the visiting public. In 1990, the same year that the City & County restrictions went into effect, UH Sea Grant was asked to administer the education program to help educate visitors and the local community on how to protect the unique and fragile environment. This, coupled with limiting visitor access, evolved as the two key methods in preserving the Bay. It is now seen as a successful example of balancing the needs of the expanding visitor industry with conserving natural resources.