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Posts Tagged ‘management plan’

From Alana:

On June 15, the third anniversary of the designation of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands as a national monument, a boat that was caught  fishing multiple times in a highly protected area of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. The bottom-fishing boat was in a very restricted area of the monument, which extends 50 miles from each of the atolls. This sanctuary is the main home for dozens of highly endangered species including the hawaiian monk seal and green sea turtle. Considering that, and all the press they’ve been getting, one would think they are facing huge charges.

The truth is that they are only facing $130,000 to as little as $1,000 in fines.

Wait, wasn’t a woman just charged $1.9 MILLION for downloading 24 songs illegally off of the internet?

This is a repeat offense case. The fishermen obviously knew where they were becasue of their reaction to the plane. Why doesn’t the government use this case to set an example for others who might have plans to fish in the protected area?

This boat is one of eight Honolulu-based fishing boats permitted to fish in a designated area of the monument. The boat was fishing outside of this area, but it still raises the question: why are these eight boats allowed there at all? What are their restrictions and how do we know they are following them?

Mismanagement needs to be dealt with now, and the correct consequences need to be issued.

Here is the article from the Honolulu Advertiser.

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From Alana:

These days it seems like everyone who regularly fishes in the Islands have one question on their minds: where have all the fish gone? No, they didn’t swim away. No, they haven’t gone to another fishing spot. They have actually all been caught. This is the result of roughly a century of unregulated fishing in Hawai’i. And now solutions are finally being sought. The kapu system, which governed what fish could be caught and when, reigned in pre-contact days, and might be making a comeback. Although this system might mean less weekends fishing, and more weekends basking on shore, popular game fish populations like ulua and mahi-mahi could be restored, and the so could the joy of a giant catch.
Read about how this system works on Moloka’i here.

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From Marti:

Late in the day on December 23rd, the final version of the Monument management plan was quietly published on the Papahānaumokuākea website.  No press release. No email to the list serv.  Just a quick post on the eve of the Eve of Christmas, which just happened to get picked up in a google alert days later.

Given all the eco-mojo the Bush Administration has tried to squish out of this “blue asterisk,” you would expect a mighty deal be made of finally finishing the management plan two years later.  The fact that the release was so secretive has gotta make you wonder what’s actually in it.

On their website, James Connaugton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality is quoted as saying:

“When President Bush first designated the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in June 2006, his goal was to move beyond just thinking about conservation to carefully managing this important area.”

Yikes! What does the federal government mean exactly when it says “move beyond” conservation?

Well, from what we see in the plan it means:

  • no limit on military activities affecting Monument resources (not even a discussion of what it would take to abide by the proclamation and “minimize and mitigate” half-pound pieces of fiery shrapnel hitting Nihoa).
  • no ban on bioprospecting, which is the taking of public trust resources for exploitation and profit by corporations, academic institutions, and private individuals.
  • no limit on the number of people that can access and/or take from this “no take” reserve.
  • no assessment of the cumulative risks and impacts of past and anticipated human activity in the Monument.
  • no public advisory council, which has been key in forcing transparent & accountable decisionmaking.

Over 50% of the proposed 355 million-dollar budget is for government operations and research, while a mere 12% goes to reducing existing threats, like clean-up of marine debris and legacy military contamination. The plan also fails to allocate sufficient resources for Native Hawaiian involvement in Monument decision-making, and leaves decision-making to a closed-door Monument Management Board.

The plan essentially abandons the “precautionary principle,” which was a hallmark of the State’s visionary pre-monument protections that required biological, cultural and historic resource integrity be favored when the impacts of any proposed activity were uncertain.

So while the revised vision, mission, and goals now commit to conservation as the purpose of the Monument, you can see that the actions to implement this plan remain largely unimproved over the weak draft released earlier this Spring.

When the draft version of this plan was released, the National Wildlife Federation, the Center for Biological Diversity and more than a dozen other organizations–representing well over 5 million people–joined KAHEA in strongly criticizing the management plan.  Despite two years of advocacy, and thousands of public letters and comments calling for a stronger, more protective plan, it is apparent that our united call for a true pu‘uhonua didn’t fit with the federal government’s vision for the future of “conservation” in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

So, here’s our take – a quote for the papers  – on the federal government’s attempt to “move beyond” conservation:

“This is conservation on paper, but not in practice. They have reshuffled the goals to say ‘full conservation’ but their proposed actions speak louder than their words. They are exempting increased military exercises proposed for this extremely delicate ocean habitat from management. They are proposing increased tourism, new construction, and extractive research without adequate public oversight and Native Hawaiian consultation,” said Marti Townsend, Program Director of KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance.

To learn more about this issue, including a detailed review of the draft plan, visit our website at: www.kahea.org

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Evan is our rock star summer intern here at KAHEA, a UH Law Student, and Fellow with the Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law. He has spent much of the last month combing the 1,200 page draft plan for the future of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands–some of the last intact Hawaiian coral reef on the planet. He has been working along with experts in resource management, science and cultural practice to review, analyze and develop our detailed comments on the draft plan.

From his commentary in the Honolulu Advertiser:

After a two-year multi-agency effort, the public had only 75 days to muster up comments on the four-volume draft. Tomorrow is the deadline [the deadline was recently extended 15 days to July 23] thus far, we have simply not heard from the people.

Among the greatest concerns in the current draft is the abandonment of the “precautionary principle,” which requires biological, cultural and historic resource protection and integrity to be favored when there is a lack of information regarding the potential impacts of any activity.

After the public spoke clearly about their desire to maintain this fragile ocean wilderness as a pu’uhonua (forever sanctuary), this principle was firmly embedded into the presidential proclamation that established the monument.

Instead, this “do no harm” mandate was watered down and replaced with research plans of a questionable nature and vamped-up visitor plans. Even more important, the people have been stripped from the process.

The draft plan fails to mention retaining a public oversight committee. The Reserve Advisory Council played a pivotal role in providing public oversight in the creation of the monument, yet any similar entity has been eliminated.

Other areas where notable improvements can be made include: the need for Native Hawaiian involvement in the leadership and management of the monument; revisions to the permitting process, including renewal and enforcement; prioritizing research around critical conservation needs; the absence of an effective cumulative impact analysis, excessive ecotourism and visitor plans on Midway; and an incomplete and largely unsubstantiated cultural impact assessment.

With time running out, I urge you to visit www.kahea.org to see some of the major concerns that have been outlined by citizens, scientists, environmental advocates and Native Hawaiians who have been diligently parsing the draft proposal.

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From Evan, law school student and Legal Fellow from the Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law working on staff with KAHEA this summer:

Was thrown into the deep waters of the 1,200 page Papahanaumokuakea Draft Monument Management Plan for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands this summer. It’s given me a unique opportunity to observe the workings of this “public” process. I’ve worked with experts in reviewing the plan, and attended several of the public hearings set up by the State/Federal Co-Trustee agencies. My observation: It is a recipe for disaster to take two years of closed door processes, package it into 4 very thick volumes and then expect the public at large to comment in any detail about what the plan entails.
700 pages of the 1,200 page plan
(This is what 700 pages of the 1,200 page plan looks like. Erm, fun.)

I first attended the hearing at the Department of the Interior in Washington D.C. (the only hearing held outside our lovely archipelago). I was quickly made aware of the fact that I would be the only person offering public testimony. So much for the public in this public hearing.

After giving an impassioned 20 minute explanation of KAHEAʻs overarching concerns, I was flooded with a steady stream of “How do you do’s?” and “Can we get a copy of your testimony?” from interested national NGO’s and congressional staffers. I was glad for the opportunity to get the word out on our key concerns, despite the dismal showing of public engagement.

The next chance I had to attend was the final night of the Federal/State Co-Trustee Island Summer Hearings Tour 2008. From all accounts, the crowd of about 60 at the Japanese Cultural Center in Moilili was by far the largest of any of the meetings. The format was a little different from D.C. and to be honest, quite unlike anything I had ever witnessed before. After a formal introduction to the Monument (same as D.C.), was an open discussion with Monument staff who were broken into 6 tables that synchronized with 6 priority management needs from the plan. It had an element of “spoon-feeding” to it, and considering that many had come to supply public testimony, made things run a little later than they may have otherwise. Nonetheless, I found this segue to be a nice opportunity to bring some of my major gripes with the plan directly to the folks who had put it together.

Over the course of this experience, I have been amazed at the bizarre nature of this top-down “public” process.

When asked: “Why was the citizen’s advisory council removed from the plan?”

A rep responded: “Actually, we do want one. We left it out because we wanted to see what the public would come up with during the review period.”

I’d suggest that a proper, engaged public process wouldn’t have waited until the review period to see what the “the public would come up with.” It all reminded me of the hide the ball game my law professors sometimes like to play. Except this is not law school. Why intentionally leave something as important as public oversight and advisory committees out of the plan, on purpose? Something as important as the Monument surely deserves better!

All told, the nine public meetings yielded about 250 total attendees and 70 testifiers. Not exactly up to par with the 100,000+ comments that helped create the Monument. Essentially, there was very little public at in these public meetings.

It is the job of the government managers to engage the public in this process–to bring the place and the process to the people. The length of time since the Co-Trustees have seen daylight, coupled with the sheer magnitude of the plan are likely culprits for this erosion of public engagement. I simply cannot accept that after previous outpourings of energy, suddenly nobody cares enough about this place to speak out. Another likely reality involves the seventy five day open period for submitting comments, which is rapidly coming to a close on July 8th. Compared to the two years it took countless full time staff to develop the plan, 75 days is simply too short a time to garner the effective and real public involvement needed to protect this special place.

This is one of the truly intact Hawaiian reef ecosystems left on earth–precious cultural and natural heritage that deserves our attention and voices. You can learn more about problems with the current plan, and how to ask for a better process and more time to get the “public” involved at: www.kahea.org.

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