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:
Posted December 30, 2013.
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.