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Posts Tagged ‘ocean protection’

Mahalo to all who took action in the last few months, asking the Army Corps of Engineers to hold a public hearing on a permit to allow Hawai’i Ocean Technology, Inc. (HOTI) to build a proposed 247-acre ahi tuna feed lot off the Kohala Coast. 100% of the feed for this project would be imported from fisheries in places like Peru, and 90% of the tuna they feedlot will be exported to Japan and the continental U.S. (Does this sound like local food sovereignty to you? Not so much.)

Last week, we got news that HOTI has withdrawn their permit application. They may still be looking to do a smaller one-cage “experimental” operation. We’ll keep you updated. But for now, count this is a victory for the ocean.  Mahalo for your action! Thanks to you, we’re a little closer today to a collective vision of food sovereignty and a functioning food system for Hawai’i. To learn more or to join the hui in support of pono aquaculture, you can go to www.ponoaqua.org

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GE Salmon

They came for our taro. Is it any surprise that fish is next on the list? Today, federal officials in the U.S. are considering approval of the first genetically modified fish. GMO-salmon. Ick.

Salmon are sacred. It’s time to show our solidarity for indigenous peoples, first nations, and fishing and nearshore communities the world over. We’re a fish and poi culture, and we’ve got to be concerned about genetic modification of native species. Genetic modification is a part of a broken industrial food system that just doesn’t work. It isn’t serving communities, farmers, fishers, or consumers. We want sovereignty… over what’s on our plates. And we’re saying no to untested, unlabeled GMO foods.

From our friends at Food and Water Watch:

Franken-Fish have won the race to be the first genetically engineered animal approved for human consumption. The aquaculture industry has genetically engineered a fish that grows at twice the normal rate, so they can get it to market sooner and make more money.

The scary thing is, the FDA doesn’t do its own testing of genetically engineered animals, it relies on information provided by the company that wants approval. And because GE salmon are being considered as a new animal drug, the process isn’t focused on what happens to people who eat genetically engineered animals. So on top of the health concerns posed by raising salmon in crowded factory fish farms that rely on antibiotics and other chemicals, the FDA could be adding the unknown risks of GE salmon to the mix.

The FDA is the same agency that’s in charge of overseeing the egg industry, and we see how well they’ve done that job. The FDA does not have the capacity to ensure the safety of food that is not genetically engineered, they certainly should not be in charge of allowing the first GE animal into our food supply.

We’ve got just 12 days until the FDA takes formal steps to approve GE salmon, so it’s up to us to demand that President Obama direct the FDA to reject this request.

Take action to stop this mutant fish from reaching your plate:
http://action.foodandwaterwatch.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=4693

(Illustration at top is by the talented Glenn Jones at threadless.com. His GE Salmon shirt is now sold out!)

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We attended the Honolulu scoping meeting on the Navy’s planned expansion of sonar and underwater munitions testing and training activities two weeks ago. We’re still working on processing the information and our thoughts about the process. In the meantime, we thought we’d share these thoughts from Uncle Jim on Moku o Keawe about their experience in Hilo:

From Uncle Jim Albertini:

Tonight’s (8/26/10) EIS Scoping Meeting on Navy expansion plans for Hawaii and the Pacific was more hardball than the Marines similar meeting of 2 days ago. (Then again, at the Marines meeting we had retired Marine Sergeant Major, Kupuna Sam Kaleleiki, to open the path with a pule and the initial public testimony.)

The Navy EIS personnel weren’t nearly as respectful of the right to public speaking and the community being able to hear each others concerns.  Some of the Navy team were downright arrogant, insulting and contemptuous.  Initially the Navy wasn’t going to allow us to bring our portable sound system into the Hilo H.S. cafeteria to hold a citizen public hearing.  Finally with police presence brought in, the Navy yielded the last hour of the planned 4-8PM event to our citizen hearing.

Some of the Navy EIS team were blatantly rude in not listening to community speakers and carried on their own conversations.  Before the public testimony, we invited all present to join hands in a pule and asked for mutual respect, and open minds and hearts.

The Navy refused to have any of their personnel take notes to make the public comments part of the official record of scoping concerns.  Community people were very respectful of the Navy personnel as human beings, but the aloha spirit wasn’t returned by many of the Navy people present.  Too bad.

Many of the Navy people were hard set to their format. Tour the science fair stations, and  If you wanted to comment, put it in writing or type it into a computer.  We were told over and over.  This is not a public hearing. No public speaking is allowed.

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We got our August issue of the excellent Environment Hawai’i in the mail the other day!

On DAR’s proposed list of activities that they believe should be exempted from doing environmental assessment, they write, “DAR’s proposed list appears to exempt every type of permit and license issued by the division.” Including live rock and coral collecting permits and all permits for Papahanaumokuakea in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

There is also great coverage of Waimanalo Gulch violations and wet-noodle enforcement from the Department of Health, and excellent reporting on this summer’s WESPAC meetings.

Mahalo to Pat and Teresa for their excellent investigative reporting! You can support Environment Hawai’i by subscribing today!

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Many of you followed the sonar lawsuit from 2008, in which KAHEA, in partnership with Earthjustice and other local, national and international NGOs, sued the U.S. Navy over its proposed expansion of military exercises around Hawai’i, including the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The State of Hawai’i, at our urging, also asked the Navy to comply with laws protecting endangered species in Hawai’i. Not surprising, the Navy refused.

Now, there’s another round of public scoping hearings for more sonar and more detonations. But don’t worry about those whales. According to the U.S. Navy, the deafness caused by underwater explosions and sonar is only temporary.

An update on U.S. Navy training in Hawaiian waters, from the Hawaii Independent:

The U.S. Navy announced its intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Overseas EIS (OEIS) relating to military training and research, including sonar and detonating explosives, within the Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing (HSTT) study area.

Public scoping meetings throughout Hawaii have been scheduled to hear comments. Last year, the federal government issued authorization to the U.S. Navy to impact whales and dolphins while conducting sonar training exercises around the main Hawaiian Islands for five years, Environmental News reported.

The letter of authorization and accompanying rules allow for injury or death of up to 10 animals of each of 11 species over the five years covered by the regulations. The Navy requested authorization under the Marine Mammal Protection Act because the mid-frequency sound generated by tactical active sonar, and the sound and pressure generated by detonating explosives, may affect the behavior of some marine mammals or cause what the Navy calls “a temporary loss of their hearing.”

Mid-frequency sonar can emit continuous sound well above 235 decibels, an intensity roughly comparable to a rocket at blastoff, according to Environmental News.

The sonar blasts travel across hundreds of miles of ocean to reveal objects, such as submarines, underwater. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will be a cooperating agency in preparation of this EIS and OEIS. In January 2009, the NMFS’s ruling stated: “After reviewing the current status of the endangered blue whale, fin whale, humpback whale, sei whale, sperm whale, Hawaiian monk seal, green sea turtle, leatherback sea turtle, loggerhead sea turtle, and Pacific ridley sea turtle, … [Navy training activity in the Hawaii Range Complex] each year for a five-year period beginning in January, 2009, are likely to adversely affect but are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of these threatened and endangered species under NMFS’s jurisdiction.”

While Earth Justice wants the Navy to stop using sonar until it can avoid serious injury to marine mammals, the environmental group recommends several things the Navy can do to minimize the harm to marine life: Impose seasonal and geographical limitations, avoid nursing areas, ramp sonar up slowly, avoid areas that were created specifically to protect endangered marine life, create a 25-mile safe haven distance from shorelines, avoid steep-sloping seamounts that provide important habitat for many marine species, prohibit testing at night or other times of low visibility, and adopt protocols similar to those of other naval forces to minimize the impact on marine wildlife.

The Navy’s latest proposed action is to conduct training and testing activities within the at-sea portions of existing Navy training range complexes around the Hawaiian Islands and off the coast of Southern California. Training activities, such as sonar maintenance, explosives, and gunnery exercises, may occur outside of Navy operating and warning areas. In 2009, the Navy instituted mitigation measures relating to sonar that include stationing lookouts, adjusting sonar decibel levels when marine animals are detected within 200 to 1,000 yards, and increased visual and aerial surveillance for marine life. The HSTT study area combines the at-sea portions of the following range complexes: Hawaii Range Complex, Southern California Range Complex, and Silver Strand Training Complex. The existing western boundary of the Hawaii Range Complex is being expanded 60 miles to the west to the International Dateline.

The HSTT study area also includes the transit route between Hawaii and Southern California as well as Navy and commercial piers at Pearl Harbor and in San Diego, CA where sonar may also be tested.

Public scoping meetings will be held between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

– Tuesday, August 24, 2010, Kauai Community College Cafeteria, 3-1901 Kaumualii Highway, Lihue, HI.
– Wednesday, August 25, 2010, Disabled American Veterans Hall, Weinberg Hall, 2685 North Nimitz Highway, Honolulu, HI.
– Thursday, August 26, 2010, Hilo High School Cafeteria, 556 Waianuenue Avenue, Hilo, HI. 6. Friday, August 27, 2010
– Maui Waena Intermediate School Cafeteria, 795 Onehee Avenue, Kahului, HI.

The meetings will consist of an informal, open house session with informational stations staffed by Navy representatives. Additional information concerning meeting times is available on the EIS and OEIS website at http://www.HawaiiSOCALEIS.com. The scoping process will be used to identify community concerns and local issues to be addressed in the EIS and OEIS. All comments provided orally or in writing at the scoping meetings, will receive the same consideration during EIS and OEIS preparation. Written comments must be postmarked no later than September 14 and should be mailed to: Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest, 2730 McKean Street, Building 291, San Diego, CA 92136-5198, Attention: Mr. Kent Randall—HSTT EIS/OEIS.

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From Miwa:

I wrote the little explanation below the other day to Uncle Bill Aila, Jr. in response to an email from him. Though it was written for him, I thought I would share it here on our blog, as others may have questions about KAHEA’s support of Na Koa and Koani Foundation in their request for intervention on World Heritage Site designation for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands:

First and foremost, KAHEA fully supports legal protections promulgated in the State Refuge and the Monument, including the prohibition on commercial fishing within 50 miles of the islands. We believe deeply in a vision of full conservation of the NWHI, as it represents a significant place of refuge for cultural practice, for native endangered species, and for some of the last predator-dominated reefs remaining on the planet.

However, as you know well (!), we have had, and continue to have, some deep concerns about management in the NWHI by the state and feds.  Including:

1) Lack of meaningful prioritization for activities in the NWHI, or of analysis of cumulative impacts (taking into account past activity–including legacy over-exploitation and military activity)
2) Weak and disorganized permitting – “unified” permit process not really very unified in implementation
3) No enforcement plan, failure to push for accountability/mitigations/appropriate limits on military activity in the NWHI
4) Lack of funding/focus on cultural access or study
5) No public advisory entity established for Monument and limited venues/opportunities for public participation on decision-making
6) Lack of collaboration:  Monument Management Board has not met in nearly six months? Multi-agency commitment to integrated ecosystem management getting lost on turf wars.

At the heart of this, is an exhibited inability for the co-trustees to collaborate effectively. Officials on the Federal side have acknowledged “some deep conflicts” which the Federal agencies are “struggling to resolve.” Though many are eager to take credit for the protections in place for the NWHI, implementation has lacked the political will to “make it work.”

We support Na Koa and Koani Foundation in their request for intervention for the following reasons:

In many communities, the decision to pursue a WHS designation comes only after years of conversation, debate, struggle and consultation. We are concerned that Native Hawaiian consultation on the WHS proposal was indeed inadequate, conveying unified support, when this is not in fact the case.

Further, World Heritage designation does not offer any additional enforceable protections for the NWHI. Indeed, over 30 World Heritage Sites are currently threatened with de-listing, due to poor management by those in charge, including the Belize Barrier Reef System and the Galapagos Islands. In an article written this past February, Goldman Prize winner John Sinclair heavily criticized Australian officials for neglecting conservation management for his beloved Fraser Island following its World Heritage designation, in favor of facility upgrades, and recreation management (e.g. widening roads) at the expense of “natural resource management, — environmental monitoring of wildlife and ecosystems, fire management, weed control, and quarantine.”

In many cases, this designation is used to promote tourism to a site (See http://www.expedia.com/daily/sustainable_travel/world_heritage/default.asp), which ironically increases the tourism impacts to the site intended for protection.

What World Heritage designation does offer is prestige and publicity. Prestige and publicity is not a need for the NWHI, as a great deal of public attention has already been placed on the protection of the NWHI. Indeed, a TIME magazine’s feature Earth Day article (Bryan Walsh) on oceans just last week noted NWHI protections as hopeful action in an otherwise pretty dismal picture of world-wide ocean resources management.

What is needed is not more attention or prestige. What is needed is accountable, integrated and cooperative management that puts the resource and the rightholders first.

Let’s do that–let’s get there–and we’ll have a place that can really be held up as an example to the world of how ocean conservation that strongly protects cultural practice can be done well.  This is our hope, and vision ahead of our efforts.

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From Marti:

Study in Sweden found that new antifouling chemical medetomidine (used to prevent the buildup of barnacles, seaweed/marine organisms on the cages/nets of open water fish farms) causes paler fish, affecting the skin cells that contain dark pigment.  It also appears to affect a detoxifying enzyme in the fish’s livers, which could result in lessened ability to filter environmental toxins (like PCBs or mercury!)

Looks like, in the race to replace TBT to keep fish farm nets and boat bottoms critter-free, it’s back to the drawing board.

See full article at:  http://www.thefishsite.com/fishnews/12238/antifouling-causes-paler-fish

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