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NMFS’ Proposed Rule Extends Sky’s-the-Limit Fishing on Bigeye Tuna

The National Marine Fisheries Service is proposing a change in fishing regulations that would make permanent what has been a year-to-year rule allowing Hawai`i-based longliners to exceed the annual catch limits on bigeye tuna imposed by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. Bigeye are already subject to overfishing pressure; the catch limits are supposed to reduce that pressure and help the stock rebuild.

As Environment Hawai`i has reported (in our current issue as well as several past issues), as soon as the longline fleet begins to approach its 3,763-metric ton limit on bigeye, NMFS starts to attribute the bigeye haul from boats belonging to the Hawai`i Longline Association to one or another of the U.S.-flagged territories in the Pacific. Thanks to a provision inserted into federal law in 2011 and renewed in subsequent years, under these so-called charter arrangements, up to 5,000 metric tons a year of bigeye caught by HLA members can be charged against the territories’ virtually unlimited catch.

The territorial charter arrangements do not require that the participating boats catch the bigeye inside territorial waters. Nor do they require that the boats take on residents of the territories as crew members, purchase provisions in the territories, or land their catch in territorial ports. The only thing NMFS does require is that none of the fish attributed to the territorial catch be taken inside the exclusive economic zone around Hawai`i.

The new rule that NMFS proposed on December 30 would amend the pelagic fishery management plan of the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Wespac) to allow for the indefinite continuation of such arrangements. Comments are due by February 28.

Here is a link to the rule:
Bigeye Rule.

Posted December 30, 2013.

Hawai`i Supreme Court Throws Out Koa Ridge Approval

The Land Use Commission's approval of a controversial O`ahu housing development known as Koa Ridge has been tossed out by the state Supreme Court. In an opinion written by Associate Justice Paula A. Nakayama and signed by the three other associate justices, the deciding vote on the petition for reclassification that was cast by Big Island member Duane Kanuha should not have counted.

Kanuha's nomination for a second term on the LUC had been rejected by the Senate in April 2010, but Gov. Lingle retained him on the LUC as a holdover appointment. The Sierra Club, Hawai`i Chapter, challenged the validity of the LUC vote on Koa Ridge, claiming that Kanuha was not entitled to serve after his nomination was rejected.

The 1st Circuit Court agreed and reversed the LUC reclassification. The Intermediate Court of Appeals, however, disagreed. The Sierra Club then appealed to the Supreme Court, which has upheld the Circuit Court decision.

Read the Supreme Court decision here. more...


Environment Hawai`i has been asked to post the following notice:

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement is investigating thefts of very rare endangered plants at specific locations on Hawai`i island. Take of listed plants protected under the federal endangered species act is punishable by a fine of up to $100,000, one year in jail or both.

Please call 808-933-6964 to provide information confidentially.

Anyone who provides key information resulting in a conviction of those involved may be considered to receive a reward."

We ask your kokua.


April 2014

Bottler's Battle Goes Back to Kaua`i County

The recent decision of the Hawai`i Supreme Court involving a bottling company's use of spring water has moved the case forward -- back into the lap of the county agency that denied it the permits it needed in the first place. As our cover story relates, the high court's ruling reaffirms and clarifies the counties' role in ensuring that public trust resources are carefully husbanded.

Contrasted to that is the proposal of the National Marine Fisheries Service, also the subject of an article on this month's cover, that cedes its trust resonsibilities over the highvalue bigeye tuna fishery in Hawai`i to the very parties that exploit it.

Also in this issue:

    Hawai`i County Finally Accepts Easement Along North Kohala Coast: It was a long and arduous process to get the county council to agree to a coastal access arrangement that left many Kohala residents uneasy and even angry. Their concerns may yet be addressed through ongoing negotiations.

    Land Board Expands Protection for Live Rock and Coral: New rules adopted by the board give the Department of Land and Natural Resources stronger enforcement powers.

    Hu Honua Bioenergy Faces Claims that Top $50 Million: The power plant that is to burn biomass keeps getting socked with claims for unpaid bills. Since our article was written, in fact, at least two more lien claims have been filed. Also, the state Department of Health has revised the emission permit for the plant, in response to a federal lawsuit settlement. Public comment on the draft permit is being accepted until April 14.

March 2014

Lines in the Sand

To all those who say you can't fight city hall or those with deep pockets, or who assert that once-forested of the islands are too degraded to be restored, or who are daunted by a years-long struggle to claim your rights, the articles in this issue provide a strong rebuttal.

As our cover story relates, the Hawai`i Supreme Court has upheld the view of Kaua`i activists who contend the state erred in a dispute over where to locate a shoreline on Kaua`is North Shore.

We also report on the same court's decision to uphold two lower court decisions supporting the Land Board's imposition of a $4 million fine against James Pflueger's Pila`a 400, LLC, for damaging state lands in the Conservation District more than a decade ago.

We provide a brief update on other instances of activists standing up for their rights against the state Commission on Water Resource Management. Finally, we're delighted to present a good-news story on the successes in restoration that have occurred at two sites on Maui.


  • State High Court Sides with Activists
    In Kaua`i Shoreline Certification Case

  • New & Noteworthy: Council Loses Advisor,
    Development at Kilauea, Kaua`i

  • BOARD TALK: Rogue Film Productions,
    Hilton Fireworks, Electrofishing, and More

  • Restoration on the Slopes of Haleakala

  • Hu Honua Creditors Jam Hilo Court
    With Applications for Mechanic Liens

  • Na Wai `Eha Hearings Resume,
    East Maui Next in Queue

  • Hawai`i County Keeps Negotiating
    With SMA Violator, Despite Court Ruling

  • Hawai`i Supreme Court Supports
    $4 Million Fine Against Pflueger Company

February 2014

Lepeuli, Kaua`i

Impending Development Intensifies Effort
To Designate Historic Coastal Trail on Kaua`i

For more than a century, Hawai`i's pre-territorial system of highways and trails has been protected by law. However, as our February 2014 issue makes clear, that protection is not ironclad. Time and again, it seems, state government has bowed to the will of private landowners, meekly ceding to them the right to determine when and under what circumstances the public will be allowed to access public trails – or, indeed, if they will be allowed to do so at all.

Also in this issue:

  • Proposed County Easement at Waipake Falls Far Short of Beach, Expectations

  • Land Board Shuns Ranch's Offer to Privatize Haleakala Bridle Trail

  • Coastal Access for Public an Issue in North Kohala Luxury Subdivision

    Revisiting Papa`a

  • New and Noteworthy: Tuna Catch Limits, Waikoloa Landowner, He`eia Reserve

  • Agribusiness Development Board Revisits
    Votes Taken at Disputed October Meeting

    Board Defers Setting Policy on Rent Increases at Galbraith


    Enforcement Sting Nets First Violator Under New Permit System at Kealakekua

    USDA Studies Forest Recovery After 'Cataclysmic Man-Made Disturbance'

    Maui Kayak Company Gets 'Clean Slate'

    January 2014


    For Another Year, Pacific Bigeye

    Go Without Strong International Protection

    The recent meeting of the body charged with regulating tuna catches in the Pacific concluded last month – and for bigeye tuna and all who love them, the news is not good. That Hawai`i’s own Western Pacific Fishery Management Council should have made it even more difficult for a meaningful agreement to be reached is downright appalling.

    Sadly, the dissembling and delay of the tuna commission only reflect what is occurring globally. The ability of regulatory and legislative bodies to grapple with environmental issues seems to shrink even as the need to do so grows ever more urgent, as marine biologist Callum Roberts argues in the book we review in this issue.

    Also this month:

    • Telescope Court Hearings: There were developments on the legal front in cases involving both the Thirty Meter Telescope and the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (now known as the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope). We also report on what has been discovered (by David Frankel, of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation) about political interference in the approval process for the ATST.

    • Board Talk: The Board of Land and Natural Resources gave the green light to a second wind farm for Kahuku; the University of Hawai`i has asked that its request for a new lease on Mauna Kea; a conservation easement for South Kona gets the board's OK; and the governor has finally signed new fishing rules for West Hawai`i.

    December 2013

    A stand of Eucalyptus grandis on the Hamakua Coast, Hawai`i.
    Credit: Forest & Kim Starr

    Biofuel Industry on Big Island Fails
    To Follow Through on Big Plans of 2008

    The biofuel boon has gone bust – at least on the island of Hawai`i. As we report in our lead article, just five years ago folks were fighting to lay claim to state lands where they could grow crops for eventual conversion into fuel of one or another kind.

    Nary an acre of state land has been given over to such projects, while managers of private land that have been planted with the intention of providing feed stock to a biomass power plant are now shipping their mature trees to Asia, awaiting the say when the plant is up and running. That day, as we report elsewhere in this issue, may yet be some distance off.

    Also in this issue: an update on recent actions of the Land Use Commission, the Land Board, and the Agribusiness Development Corporation; the current status of plans for expanding the Turtle Bay Resort; and a commentary on our October articles on climate change.

    November 2013

    Eight Years After EPA Banned Their Use,
    Hana Clinic Still Relies on Gang Cesspools

    The small Maui community of Hana is known for its remoteness, as attest the many T-shirts and bumper stickers that celebrate the long, narrow, and winding road that residents and visitors alike must travel to arrive there.

    But for the last few months, Hana’s health clinic, run by the non-profit organization Hana Health, has been at the center of a dispute involving the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, and Hana Health itself, over who should bear the responsibility and substantial cost of removing the gang cesspools still in use at the clinic some eight years after being outlawed by the federal Clean Water Act.

    Also in this issue:

    Wespac Fails to Account for Food, Drink, At 2012 Reception it Hosted for CCC: We file our final report on the lavish spring 2012 meeting of the federal fishery managers at the Mauna Lani resort.

    Board Talk: We report on highlights of recent actions by the Board of Land and Natural Resources regarding a kayak tour operation on Maui, the future of Oceanic Institute, a management plan for Pu`u Maka`ala, and more.

    Debate Over La`ie Expansion Continues As Community Plan Nears Council Vote: We report on a recent hearing by the city's Zoning and Planning Committee on the Ko`olau Loa Sustainable Communities Plan.

    Commission Barely Approves Time Extension to Review Petition to Designate Kona Aquifer: We follow up with the Water Commission’s initial response to the designation petition filed by the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park.

    October 2013

    Walking on Water

    Climate change portends huge disruptions to coastal states such as Hawai`i. That beach walk? In 40 years, you'll need your Wellies to stroll the same ground. By the end of the century, your great-grandkids will be donning hip waders.

    That may well be the best-case scenario. Under some forecasts, which predict massive melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, anyone wanting to trace those same paths will need scuba gear.

    And yet, state and county agencies responsible for defending vital infrastructure have not yet undertaken the work that will be needed to prepare against the day when coastal flooding overwhelms roads, harbors, sewage treatment facilities, and power plants. Legislators have not started budgeting for the massive capital outlays that will be required.

    Hawai`i is fortunate to have moved past debate over whether climate change is real and to have begun laying the legal groundwork for moving forward. But, experts say, it is not too early to start the hard work of preparing for its inevitable consequences.

    In this issue, our two cover stories – National Park Service Seeks State Control Over Aquifer System at Kaloko-Honokohau and Moving Beyond Climate Change Plans to Action Challenges State, Counties – discuss current efforts to start that planning.

    We also include two related articles, In Hawai`i, a Long History of Plans for a Changing Climate, Few Actions and State Leaders Underscore Priority of Dealing with Water, Climate.

    Our Board Talk column details a new program in the works to help the state Department of Land and Natural Resources secure funding to restore damaged coral reef ecosystems, a recent debate between the Board of Land and Natural Resources and the Honolulu rail transit authority over rent payments, and efforts to resolve a dispute with a Kaua`i taro farmer who has been using state land without permission.


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