NEW & NOTEWORTHY: Ka`a`awa Collapse, Seawall Update

posted in: June 2016 | 0
Credit: Brian Walsh
A collapsing section of Kamehameha Highway. Credit: Brian Walsh

Ka`a`awa Collapse: Every O`ahu resident knows Kamehameha Highway is the main and, in places, the only road that takes you around the island. At several points, the road runs alongside the ocean, with waves overtopping and undercutting it during high tides and strong swells.

Nowhere is that more apparent than in Ka`a`awa. There, last March, the state Department of Transportation undertook emergency repairs to shore up a crumbling shoulder, the scene of earlier emergency repairs.

Now, however, the same section of road is once more in need of first aid. Under the DOT’s plans for spot mitigation at areas along the highway in Ka`a`awa, Punalu`u, and Hau`ula, work is expected to be completed in January 2018, says the DOT’s Shelley Kunishige. Longer-lasting erosion mitigation measures will be addressed in the department’s update of its Statewide Highways Shoreline Protection Study.

At a meeting of the O`ahu Metropolitan Planning Organization last month, the DOT representative said that whenever the road collapses in that area, the DOT will work with the Army Corps of Engineers to respond within one week with emergency repairs.


Seawall Update: The Keaukaha seawall that was built without permits by Robert Iopa may be coming down, according to a source within the state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands (OCCL).

Iopa, the source said, agreed to remove the wall, which was the subject of the cover story in the May edition of Environment Hawai`i. Because the OCCL did not issue a notice of violation to Iopa, the source stated, if the unauthorized improvements are removed, the matter would be resolved.

In the past, the OCCL has been a stickler for requiring permits even for the removal of unauthorized structures.

When or if the wall is taken down, given the volume of backfill, there is a possibility that some of the fill would enter coastal waters, triggering the need for an Army Corps of Engineers permit before work commences.  No Corps permit had been sought by press time.


American Samoa Sues: The National Marine Fisheries Service and Kitty Simonds, longtime executive director of the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council, are among the defendants in a lawsuit brought by the government of American Samoa. At issue is a rule adopted by NMFS in February that expands the so-called Large Vessel Prohibited Area (LVPA). Before the February action, almost all longliners had to fish outside of 50 nautical miles from the territory’s coast. The intention was to prevent gear conflicts between the larger vessels and the fleet of smaller fishing boats, generally alia catamarans. The new rule allows the larger vessels to fish as close as 12 nautical miles from shore.

The territory claims in its complaint, filed March 4 in U.S. District Court in Honolulu, that the description of America Samoa’s fleet of small boats is in error – that, in fact, the number of small boats that regularly fish in waters close to shore is much larger than what NMFS describes.

The new rule, while recommended to NMFS by the council, was not unanimously endorsed by all council members. The head of the territory’s Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources (DMWR), Ruth Tafagi-Motiga, submitted comments on the proposed rule last September, in which she was harshly critical of the expanded fishing zone for large vessels.

Save the Date: Environment Hawai`i will have its annual dinner on Sunday, August 21 in Hilo, starting at 6 p.m. at the `Imiloa Astronomy Center. Special guest speaker will be Robin Baird, a research biologist with the Cascadia Research Collective and author of a forthcoming book, The Lives of Hawai`i’s Dolphins and Whales (scheduled for release later this year by the University of Hawai`i Press).

The cost is $65 per person, which includes a $20 donation to Environment Hawai`i, Inc. Call for reservations: 808 934-0115.

Volume 26, Number 12 June 2016

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