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Big Island canoe regatta placed on hold for coral assessment

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A Hawaii island canoe regatta was placed on temporary hold today after cinder block course markers were found resting on coral structures, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources reported.

Teams from the DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources and the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement looked at the placement of each of the 28 markers for the Founders Regatta, hosted by the Keauhou Canoe Club.

Staff found that 16 of those markers at the Kailua-Kona Wharf were resting on coral structures, the DLNR said. The department agreed to let the race continue without moving the blocks, but they will be removed at the end of the day to prevent further damage.

“We know paddlers love the ocean and want reefs to be protected and to thrive. Mistakenly placing markers on the reef can cause damage to a vital part of the ocean ecosystem,” DLNR First Deputy Laura Kaakua said in a statement. “The ocean comes first and that’s the reason we asked for this pause, so we could conduct an initial coral damage assessment. We appreciate everyone’s patience and support in caring for our reefs and are happy we were able to work with race organizers to resume their event.”

A more complete assessment of any coral damage by the markers will be conducted after the regatta, the DLNR said.

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