Code of the Ocean, Maui Weekly, 04/07
By Debra Lordan
Source: Maui Weekly
It’s my very first day at Big Beach over 20 years ago is still my most memorable ocean experience. A whale sighting… it was huge, a few hundred feet from shore, and I had absolutely no idea what it was. That very same day, I got pummeled by a wave that dragged me across the sand like a rag doll. Ouch. Then they tell me: “Never turn your back on the ocean.” Too late. I had never been to the ocean before, and was not prepared for its power.
And that very same day, I got a sunburn so bad my legs looked like candy canes for about two weeks. After they healed up, I took a snorkeling excursion, and upon seeing my very first sand shark, broke the women’s 200-yard swim record—I’m certain of it.
Next, surfing. Gave myself a black eye with my surfboard. You can’t say I didn’t try, but I think you see that my relationship to the sea is a tenuous one. I now experience the ocean via SpongeBob SquarePants cartoons from the safety of my couch. I know that he lives in a pineapple under the sea. But that’s about the extent of my ocean knowledge.
Is there anyone out there who knows a whole lot about the ocean, loves it and wants to help protect it? If so, here is your chance to be part of the solution.
Marine recreation providers on Maui are working together with state and local agencies to create Voluntary Standards and a Code of Conduct for boating, scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking and whalewatching operations. The objective is to identify good environmental practices for these categories of marine recreation and to codify them. And they need your help.
The Coral Reef Alliance is facilitating the process and engaging local partners and a wide array of stakeholders who will collaboratively develop and implement the code. Stakeholders include marine resource managers, educators and researchers, those involved with any form of marine recreation business (owners, operators and employees), or suppliers (such as activity agencies or hotel concierges), community members who are divers, snorkelers, kayakers, surfers, those who fish for or eat seafood from Hawai‘i’s reefs or are simply concerned about their health and status. The intention is to put decision-making into the hands of those directly affected in order to promote and facilitate self-regulation.
Initial drafts of the code have already been developed, and these draft standards will be available for public review and comment by the Standards and Code Taskforce (SCT). That’s where you come in.
Taskforce members are actively being sought, and any person, organization or agency that wants to become a member and participate may apply. Work will be carried out via an online software system managed by Underwriters’ Laboratories that allows for review, debate, consensus building and balloting within a password-protected online forum—a “virtual taskforce.” It’s a format that allows taskforce members to contribute at their convenience.
To serve, contact CORAL’s Hawai‘i Field Manager, Liz Foote, by May 18 at Lfoote@hawaii.rr.com, or call (808) 669-9062.
Please do what you can to protect the ocean for SpongeBob, his friends—and us all.