Why have authorities reduced the whale sanctuary in Hawaii?


A federal agency cuts its whale-size ambitions in Hawaii as the state government and environmentalists say the current marine sanctuary is big enough.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has sought to expand the Hawaiian Islands National Humpback Whale Sanctuary by 235 square miles to include the water surrounding the islands of Oahu, Kauai and Niihau, Wendy Osher reported for Maui. Now.

NOAA announced it would end those plans on Wednesday. The state of Hawaii had opposed increased federal oversight, winning a victory for local land management the same week a standoff over federal land management ended in Oregon. Hawaii, however, had made its case in a series of town halls, peaceful protests and diplomatic letters.

“The State of Hawaii supports an ecosystem-based management approach, but cannot endorse federal jurisdiction or the application of Hawaiian waters on this scale,” Suzanne Case, chair of the Board of Land and Natural Resources wrote in a letter. opened.

Water sports enthusiasts and beach-related business owners protested last summer with signs reading “No fishing? And “Say no to NOAA,” Michael Tsai told Hololulu Star Advertiser.

Several Hawaiian conservation groups had opposed the federal expansion and said the state made the right recommendation. The letter signifies that the state of Hawaii intends to manage its own marine resources, Carl Berg, marine biologist and president of Surfrider Foundation Kauai told Jessica Else for The Garden Island.

“It’s a shock that the state has fallen the way it did and I’m really surprised, but I’m also thrilled,” said Gordon LaBedz, a member of the Kohola Leo whale conservation group, at The Garden Island. at a meeting to discuss the plan. “His letter said, ‘We’re not really comfortable with you taking the whole ocean on board.'”

The proposed expansion was unusual in that it was not based on an urgent need for conservation; rather, NOAA recognized the success of the Marine Sanctuary, which Congress established in 1992 to protect the nearly extinct humpback whale. Humpback whales now number around 21,000, and thousands migrate to Hawaiian shores to breed each winter, the Christian Science Monitor reported earlier this month.

NOAA has suggested that with the resolution of this immediate threat, the sanctuary could protect the larger ecosystem in a more holistic way.

“Managing a single species is not the way management is done, whether on land or in water,” Allen Tom, NOAA regional director of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. “We were trying to move towards a much broader approach to managing some of these endangered animals as well as the resources of the ocean.”

The agency began work on the expansion plan in 2010, then was open to public comment in March 2015, saying the expansion would protect several species in addition to the humpback whale.

Hawaii government officials, however, said the federal government already heavily regulates its waters and lands and expressed concern that the NOAA plan would take local agencies and partnerships out of the equation.

Hawaii state agencies “feel that what the federal government needs most right now is more management capacity . . . and no more regulation,“and are concerned that the NOAA plan will hamper access for fishermen, boats and cultural heritage sites,” Ms. Case wrote in the open letter.


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