Hawai`i Marine Life Conservation Districts
MLCDs have been successful at restoring marine life populations and protecting reef habitats. In addition to knowing and following the regulations for a particular District, you can further conserve marine resources by following these guidelines
Avoid walking on the reef.
Reef-building coral polyps are small, sensitive animals that are easily killed if stepped on. Aside from protecting the reef, you'll reduce the risk of stepping on something that could hurt you.
Don't feed the fish.
Fish feeding is prohibited in some MLCDs. In those where it is not, consider that peas, bread and other "people foods" which are often used to bring fish around are not part of a fish's natural diet, and their nutritional value to a fish is questionable. Commercially available fish foods may be better, but it's best to avoid feeding fish entirely. The natural environment provides everything fish need to eat, and you don't need to feed fish in order to see them.
Leave things as you found them.
Collecting shells, coral and other souvenirs is prohibited in all MLCDs. Because of its importance in building habitat, the taking of live coral is prohibited in all state waters. Picking things up in order to examine them is discouraged, but if you feel you must then put them back as they were. Rocks and shells provide important habitat to creatures that live in or under them.
Take only what you need from the sea.
If consumptive use (i.e. fishing) is allowed in a particular MLCD, don't overdo it. If you don't need to eat your catch, release it carefully so it can live to fight another day.
Dispose of trash properly.
Throwing trash, especially plastics, into the ocean presents a hazard to fish and other aquatic life. Besides, it's illegal.
If you see somebody fishing illegally, report them to enforcement officials. Discretely get an automobile license number if possible.
Following these suggestions will go a long way to conserving the nearshore environment, and help ensure that future generations can enjoy the same experiences available to you.