NEW & NOTEWORTHY: Cut Fences and Bigeye Catches

posted in: August 2015, New & Noteworthy | 0

More Fences Cut: In June, the Department of Land and Natural Resources disclosed that vandals had cut openings in two miles of fences around Pu`u Maka`ala Natural Area Reserve on the Big Island. According to a DLNR press release, “vandals had cut through multiple sections of fence at intervals of 5 to 10 meters, top to bottom.” The cost to repair the fencing was put at several hundreds of thousands of dollars, not including the cost of removing any animals that may have gained access to the reserve through the cut fence.

But the hardworking vandals didn’t stop there.

Around 2.4 miles of fencing at the nearby Ola`a Tract of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park was also cut. According to park spokesperson Jessica Ferracane, temporary repairs have been made, “but the whole length will need to be replaced and will cost an estimated $142,000.”

Suzanne Case, DLNR director, said, “Whatever point these vandals think they’re making, they need to realize that they and every other taxpayer in Hawai`i, ultimately ends up paying for the replacement of this fencing.  Additionally, significant staff time will be spent to repair the damage which could take several months and takes staff away from other scheduled projects and regular duties.”

Fences in both units have been put up to protect rare and endangered populations of native Hawaiian plants from damage from pigs. Many hunters on the Big Island have made no secret of their dislike of the fenced areas, claiming state and federal governments are reducing their hunting opportunities.

Bigeye Limit Nears: The Honolulu longline fleet is fast approaching its bigeye tuna catch limit set by the Western and Central Pacific Commission. As of late July, the fleet had already caught 3,379 metric tons, or 96.5 percent of the allowable catch. The National Marine Fisheries Service’s Pacific Islands Regional Office anticipated the fleet would reach its WCPFC limit on August 5.

On July 23, NMFS published in the Federal Register a final rule to implement the 2015 quota. The rule was not unexpected – but it does come surprisingly late in the year, given that the quota is almost met. The limit has been known since the WCPFC last met in December 2014.

Because of the lateness of the hour, NMFS is waiving any period for public comment, since “the amount of U.S. longline bigeye tuna catch  … to date in 2015 has been greater than in prior years, and it is critical that NMFS publish the catch limit for 2015 as soon as possible to ensure that it is not exceeded,” the FR notice states.

“Delaying this rule to allow for advance notice and public comment would bring a substantial risk that more than 3,502 mt of bigeye tuna would be caught by U.S. longline fisheries … constituting non-compliance by the United States with respect to the longline bigeye tuna catch limit provisions” adopted by the international commission, the notice states.

In recent years, NMFS has allowed the Hawai`i Longline Association to purchase a part of a quota NMFS has given to the U.S. territories, and in this manner has allowed the fleet to add as much as 1,000 tons to their annual WCPFC quota for each territory with which they have an agreement. As of late July, NMFS had yet to publish a rule to allow this to occur in 2015. Mike Tosatto, NMFS regional administrator, said his staff was still working on this.

Quote of the Month

“I don’t know what they expect the government to do when the government has to follow the rule of law.”

— Chris Yuen, Land Board

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