Hawaii's Institute of Marine Biology says it is hopeful state lawmakers will draft a meaningful bill to protect the marine environment but time is running out.
An associate specialist, Malia Rivera, said scientists recently presented information on the escalation of coral bleaching and the decline in reef fish stocks due to over fishing and environmental stress.
Almost half of Hawaii's coral reefs were bleached during heat waves in 2014 and 2015 and fisheries close to shore are declining, with about 40 percent of the species classified as overfished.
Ms Rivera said scientists had been briefing the State Legislature on the critical outlook for coral reefs and inshore fisheries.
"Under a business as usual strategy the outlook is not promising for coral reefs in the coming decades. There is still an opportunity to reverse some of these trends but time is getting kind of critical at this point."
Ms Rivera said the burden was now on policy makers to figure the problem out in a relatively short amount of time.