NOAA Research Reserve Is a First for Pacific Islands

The Takeaway: This research reserve protects 1,385 acres.

The new He’eia National Estuarine Research Reserve is located within the largest sheltered body of water in the Hawaiian Island chain, with 1,385 acres that host coastal research, shelter coral reefs, filter water, lessen flooding, and safeguard creatures such as the federally endangered Hawaiian stilt, Hawaiian common moorhen, and Hawaiian hoary bat.

He’eia Research Reserve also preserves traditional agricultural and heritage lands vital to the social and economic fabric of O’ahu. The surrounding Kāneʻohe Bay plays an important role in Hawai’i’s tourism and recreation sector, which annually yields $6.5 billion in gross domestic product and employs 101,000 people who earn a combined $3 billion in wages.

This reserve is the 29th in NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System, which protects over 1.3 million acres and hosts 450,000 annual visitors, providing education and community involvement to foster safe and healthy coastal communities, economies, and ecosystems.

NOAA provides national program leadership and funding for this reserve, managing it in partnership with the Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology at the University of Hawai’i. The management plan was developed with state and local partners and provides direction for a wide variety of activities over the next five years. (2018)

More Information: He’eia Reserve

Fast Fact: Did you know that ocean-based tourism and recreation contribute approximately $116 billion in gross domestic product every year? For more statistics related to this story, check out Tourism and Recreation and Research Reserves.