Coastlines at risk
Our coastlines are suffering. Critical habitats where baby monk seals are being born and learning to survive have become off-road drag strips. Despite rules limiting sizes of gatherings to protect the general public from virus spread, rowdy, drunken crowds with 4x4s cruise up and down beaches threatening people and sensitive places like Ooma and NELHA. Noise and extreme damage to land, flora, and fauna rage, yet little or no help is being provided by the county or state agencies whose kuleana it is to protect them.
Add to that an imminently threatening plan by the state to rezone public land at the Kona International Airport to make way for dense urban and hotel development. This potentially damaging ploy to Honolulu-fy Hawaii Island is at a time when we’re choke with hotel and other vacation accommodation while finite, public natural space is being decimated. This would be idiotic in “normal” times, but the current lack of focus on economic diversification is stunning after our county economy has been paralyzed by two major crisis (the pandemic and volcanic eruptions) in large part due to an overwhelming dependency upon tourism.
The people of Hawaii Island have spent generations fighting to protect natural and cultural resources upon which everything good, including visitors and a strong economy, depend. Those land use battles are legendary: Honokohau, Ooma, Mahaiula/Maniniowali (aka Kua Bay), Makalawena, Kohanaiki. Incredulously, much of the land that the state Airports Division wants to rezone and urbanize is a stone’s throw from those critical lands.
Immediate public pressure is all that will stop this senseless rezoning and help direct public dollars and effort toward protecting our island’s special places. Call or email the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and Department of Transportation, Gov. David Ige, Hawaii County Planning Director Michael Yee, Mayor Harry Kim, and Hawaii County Council Chairman Aaron Chung. Tell them that protection of our irreplaceable natural resources is as important as removing bumps from a road or throwing tax dollars at advertising meant to lure tourists who’d come here anyway.
COVID-19 or no, government agencies and the public they work for must find the will and funding to do what’s needed to protect our Public Trust Resources from current and future abuse.
Results have proven fishery sustainable
I agree with Ms. Owens that the decision about the aquarium fishery is a bad one. I have been following this issue for two decades. The monitoring done by the scientists in the Department of Aquatic Resources has been rigorous and unbiased and praised in scientific journals. The approach has been adopted by many countries in the Pacific and elsewhere. The results have proven the fishery to be sustainable. The opposition is the same group of people that think zoos are offensive and should all be closed.
The reaction now reminds me of the stance many are taking to the efforts to control the COVID-19 pandemic — all emotion, completely ignoring the medical experts and science. There is no sense in stopping a good sustainable local industry based on misinformation and bias. Stopping this industry is similar to refusing to use a mask just for the sake of refusing to accept or believe the science.
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