By Mary Simms
COCONUT ISLAND (KHNL) - Fish are important to both our ecosystem and economy in Hawaii. These living resources are being threatened by over-fishing, pollution, even global warming.
In the midst of a pristine, seemingly undeveloped island sits a 10-million dollar lab on the cutting edge of technology. The research done here is vital to the future of marine ecosystems in Hawaii.
Primary investigator Rob Toonon likens what he does here, to the popular television show C.S.I.
"So when C.S.I tries to figure out who committed a crime, we are figuring out if the opihi that are being picked today are their parents on the same island or a different island."
A group of his colleagues are busy collecting samples in the North Western Hawaiian Islands now.
"And the reason to study the North Western Islands is to find out what the main Hawaiian Islands used to look like. If we want to manage stocks down here, what is the baseline that we should be aiming for?"
Rob says the threat to our fish stocks is real, and very serious.
"In order for us to be able to continue to fish, there have to be fish left in the ocean and if we catch them all today there will be none left tomorrow. That's the bottom line."
Many of the studies done at the Coconut Island Research facility provide invaluable information to help protect the National Monument.