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Posts Tagged ‘marine reserve’

From:  Andrea

The U.S. Coast Guard removed 32 tons of debris from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands over the Fourth of July weekend.  Much thanks to the Coast Guard for ameliorating the health of our oceans!  See the Honolulu Advertiser article:

http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/20090713/BREAKING01/307130004/U.S.%20Coast%20Guard%20removes%2032%20tons%20of%20debris%20from%20Northwestern%20Hawaiian%20Islands?GID=e/Si+j1sOYkNlMXAMxQScaqw1wgB5/Nurtn+5iNvNh8%3D

While I am glad that efforts to clean up marine litter are taking place, especially in such an  irreplaceable, nationally protected locale, 32 tons is only the tip of the iceberg.  The scale of this problem is vast.  Marine litter filling our oceans is a global problem affecting all people and nations.  Marine litter, of which 80% are plastics, harms marine life, degrades human health, and results in tremendous social, economic, and cultural costs.

The United Nations Environment Programme recognizes this immense ocean dilemma that affects everyone.  In April 2009,   the UN Environment Programme released a report titled “Marine Litter:  A Global Challenge.”  Find the report at:

http://www.unep.org/pdf/UNEP_Marine_Litter-A_Global_Challenge.pdf

“There is an increasingly urgent need to approach the issue of marine litter through better enforcement of laws and regulations, expanded outreach and educational campaigns, and the employment of strong economic instruments and incentives,” the report says.

The report also notes that the “overall situation is not improving.” Thank you, Coast Guard, for your part.  But, we must do our part, too.

What can you do to help reduce marine litter?

  • Keep streets, sidewalks, parking lots, and storm drains free of trash to prevent washing trash into the ocean and waterways.
  • Take reusable items- and less trash and throw-away containers- to the beach.
  • At the beach, be sure to recycle what you can and throw the rest of your trash into trash cans.  Do not leave trash or anything else, like plastic toys or containers, at the beach when you leave.
  • Pick up debris that other people have left; recycle what you can, and throw the rest away in a trash can.
  • When fishing, take all of your nets, gear, and other materials back onshore to recycle or dispose of in a trash can.
  • If you smoke, take your butts with you, disposing of them in a trash can.
  • When boating, stow and secure all trash on the vessel.
  • Participate in local clean-ups.  Here’s one resource:  http://www.adoptabeachhawaii.com/
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle.
  • Serve as an example to others.
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As part of ongoing efforts to protect endangered Hawaiian monk seals, federal officials are turning to old Hawaiian chants and songs. The purpose: to battle misperceptions that the Hawaiian monk seal is an invasive species that does not deserve protection.

“This ain’t the mongoose; this animal was here before any of us,” says David Schofield, Monk Seal Coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The problem, however, is to document the animal’s presence here.  To that end, NOAA is working with Hawaiian cultural experts to find references to the monk seal in traditional oli and mele.  NOAA also is asking people to ask kupuna if they know of any old stories involving the sea mammals. The point, Schofield says, is not to invent tall tales about seals, but document the animals’ presence through oral histories and other documents. 

For instance, Schofield says, volunteers interested in helping might research archives, such as the Bishop Museum, to find old references to the animals.

This research is just a small piece of what NOAA is trying to do to help the seals. The agency is charged with protecting beached seals, rescuing animals that have been hooked or entangled in fishing nets, counting seals, relocating animals that become too habituated to people, and informing the public about the animals. Part of this public outreach campaign lately has involved dealing with a growing rumor: that monk seals are not from here.  This ugly rumor has led some people to refuse to give monk seals the deference the animals deserve when it comes to sharing the water. And that’s a problem.

Known in Hawaiian as ‘Ilio holo I ka uaua, or the dog that runs in rough water, the Hawaiian monk seal has been recorded in the islands as far back as the 19th century.

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Video of the Honolulu hearing on the Draft Management Plan for the Papahanaumokuakea Marine Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands held in Honolulu on June 24th. The 1,200 page plan will direct the future of public trust resources in the last, large intact Hawaiian reef ecosystem in the world.

At the hearing, leading local conservation voices, including Keiko Bonk, Marjorie Ziegler, Dr. Stephanie Fried, Kyle Kajihiro, Leila Hubbard, Dave Raney, Don May and KAHEA staff (Evan, Bryna, Marti, and Miwa) testified to their concerns about the draft plan. (Testimony starts at 33:30).

In the largest no-take marine reserve on the planet, this draft of the Federal/State plan is proposing: the construction of a “small municipality” on Midway, new cruise ships, more tourists, increases in extractive research, new risks of invasive species introductions, exemptions for fishing, and opening of the area to bioprospecting. An expansion of military activities–including sonar, ballistic missile interceptions, and chemical warfare simulations–would be allowed to go forward with no mitigations. The plan also disbands the existing citizen advisory council, which is pretty much the only opportunity for members of the public (non-government scientists, advocates, cultural practitioners, and resource experts) to participate in decision-making.

You can also watch the hearings on `Olelo Channel 52.

You can support by submitting your own written comments, signing our petition, and spreading the word. Mahalo piha to the thousands who have already supported the call for a better plan!

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From our buddy Oren, who helped us get this public hearing documented and on air:

The video taping of the Honolulu hearing on the Draft Management Plan for The Papahanaumokuakea Marine Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands held in Honolulu on June 24th will be aired on ‘Olelo Community Television on ch. 52 as well as on its internet website olelo.net–which simultaneously streams ch. 52.

7/3/08 Thu 1:00 pm
7/10/08 Wed Midnight
7/17/08 Wed Midnight
7/24/08 Thu 1:00 pm

In a few days we maybe able to get it on the internet for anyone to watch at any time.

I’d like to thank especially Bill Sager, John Isagawa, Dave Gonzales, Rob Kinslow and the peoples’ at ‘Olelo Community Television —with a lot of their efforts—-, all of whom, who helped to tape this thing together.

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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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