Monumental Victory for Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, KAHEA, 06/16/06
As many of you have already heard, we have a lot to celebrate!! KAHEA staff and Board are so very pleased about the recent declaration of the NWHI National Marine Monument. It is a milestone in ocean and cultural rights protection and an encouraging response to a long struggle and to consistent public support. We should all be extremely proud and thrilled that the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands will have permanent protection!! We are also pleased that the Monument will be jointly managed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife and NOAA and in close coordination with the state. Mahalo to everyone who helped make this happen. Your support has culminated in a phenomenal and MONUMENTAL victory unparalleled in history!!
WHAT THE PROCLAMATION LANGUAGE PROVIDES:
- Builds on and augments the existing NWHI Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve protections.
- Fully protects access for Native Hawaiian traditional and customary cultural practices and the right to consume fish while in the Kupuna Islands.
- Recreational activity and historic visits are allowed only at Midway Atoll, as approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
- Dumping of waste in Monument waters is prohibited.
- Commercial fishing will be phased out over a five-year period. In the interim, fishing boats will be required to abide by "no dumping" in state and monument waters, no fishing in protected areas and fishing caps are maximized at 350,000 pounds for bottomfish and 180,000 pounds for trolled pelagic fish.
- All other resource extraction activities are forever banned.
- Educational and scientific activities will be limited and "carefully regulated."
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Fish and Wildlife Service will share management duties in cooperation with the state. USFW has sole jurisdiction over the existing Hawaiian Island Refuge, the Midway Refuge and the WWII Midway National Monument.
- The Monument will receive a Native Hawaiian name. This process is being overseen by the Native Hawaiian Cultural Working Group of the NWHI Coral Reef Reserve Advisory Council.
- Research will only be allowed that directly furthers the management or recovery of the Monument.
Since 2000 there have been more than 100 meetings and working group sessions open to the public - including 30 formal public hearings that generated more than 100,000 comments, the vast majority in favor of strong conservation measures for the NWHI.
AN IMPORTANT LESSON IN THIS SWEET VICTORY: Don't Underestimate the Impact of Many People Asserting Their Voices
Mr. Bush, like the State of Hawai'i, acknowledged that the bold protection measures were the direct result of clear and consistent public support for the strongest possible protections in the ancient Kupuna Islands. This response was due to everyone's participation. You helped make this happen. Future generations and the wildlife in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands will be forever grateful. KAHEA and the hui certainly is.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE: NEXT STEPS
- It's not over quite yet! Please respond to our email Action Alert on the upcoming opportunity to attend a hearing if you can and provide public input on the Monument's draft management plan and on the regulations. You can help by forwarding our Alerts to 'ohana, friends, and co-workers. Help expand efforts to maintain the momentum of public support for strong protection of this and other public trust resources.
- Help us to secure adequate funding for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that is commensurate to NOAA's massive administrative budget for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
- We must ensure that the public will have the opportunity to review all permits.
- Enforcement with penalties must be integral to the management plan and adequately funded.
In the coming weeks, the hui will be assessing the needed changes to the sanctuary program's draft management plan and we will working on proposed regulations to implement this amazing proclamation. We will keep you updated.