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Abercrombie, Kauai push against Niihau regulation

  • Craig  T. Kojima / ckojima@staradvertiser.com

    Craig T. Kojima / ckojima@staradvertiser.com

LIHUE » Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie and local government officials in Kauai are pushing for state lawmakers to avoid bills that would regulate coastal and marine resources near the island of Niihau.

The Garden Island newspaper reported Tuesday that Abercrombie told Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. that his administration won’t take any affirmative action on the Niihau regulation proposals until state and local lawmakers collaborate and figure out how community members will be heard.

Carvalho wrote to Abercrombie saying he is concerned about proposals in the House and Senate to do things like establish no-fishing zones and regulate opihi harvesting.

Carvalho said the proposals were introduced "with no prior discussion with our county government officials or with others on Kauai who would be impacted."

"These issues involve the interests of many stakeholders and are worthy of a full and frank discussion among all," Carvalho said.

Abercrombie told Carvalho it appears most of the bills will be defeated anyway, although anything can happen before the end of session.

"Until that time, please know that I support reasonable fishing as an essential part of our state’s overall need to provide for our own local food and minimize our reliance on imported food sources," Abercrombie wrote in a letter to the Kauai mayor.

The Kauai County Council this month asked legislators and state agencies to stop plans to regulate Niihau. One of the bills would have made Niihau its own county, separate from Kauai. Another granted fishing rights.

Niihau, nicknamed "The Forbidden Island," is about 18 miles southwest of Kauai. It has been privately owned since 1864.

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