Officials investigating ‘significant damage’ to corals, live rock near Honolulu Harbor entrance channel

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The State is investigating significant damage to corals and live rock near the entrance channel to Honolulu Harbor, according to the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR).

The U.S. Army Corps of engineers contracted dredging work to Healy Tibbitts Corporation.

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According to DLNR officials, it is alleged the dredging platform’s anchor and cable were dragged across coral colonies, and dredged material was dropped on the corals. The DLNR says the State is “investigating the circumstances associated with what is described as significant damage to corals and live rock near the entrance channel to Honolulu Harbor.”

The damaged area is estimated at about 17,500 yards and includes a coral colony that is estimated to be hundreds of years old.

State divers will be collecting coral fragments and trying to reattach some starting Friday, May 14. They say some of the coral is already dying.

“We’re already seeing mortality among some of the corals that were damaged,” said coral restoration nursery manager David Gulko. “Time is of the essence, with the summer’s first south swells imminent, so we need to fix as much damage as we can, quickly.” 

Healy Tibbitts said in a statement:

“Healy Tibbitts understands the significance of Hawai‘i’s precious natural resources, and we are committed to doing everything we can to take immediate restorative action and mitigate further damage to the coral reef. To that end, we have retained help from Marine Research Consultants, Inc. and Sea Engineering, Inc. to rapidly commence mitigation and restoration efforts.”

Emmet Kinney, Healy Tibbitts Builders Inc vice president

The damage is still being assessed and the Board of Land and Natural Resources can impose fines for the damage and repairs.

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