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Native Hawaiian leaders seek expansion of marine conservation area

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    In this file photo, a high-endemism deep reef fish community is seen at 300 feet off Kure Atoll, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Every fish in the picture is a Hawaiian endemic species (not known from anywhere else except Hawaii).


    In this file photo, the North Island is seen at Pearl & Hermes Atoll in Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.

A group of Native Hawaiian leaders have urged President Barack Obama to expand what’s already one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world.

But the president of the Hawaii Longline Association said Friday the lobbying effort is using Hawaiian culture as an excuse to close off more waters to fishermen.

The dispute involves Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument — a 140,000 square mile area of the Pacific where remote islands, atolls, islets and coral reefs serve as habitat for some of the world’s most endangered species.

The region is also a sacred place in the history, culture and cosmology of Native Hawaiians.

“Mr. President, as an island boy from Hawaii, we trust that you understand the significance of the ocean to our islands,” said a letter signed by leaders of the expansion push.

They want Obama to expand the monument to the full 200 nautical-mile limit of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands exclusive economic zone while keeping the main Hawaiian islands outside the boundaries.

“While the current boundary of Papahanaumokuakea includes vital habitat for a number of species, it doesn’t fully protect habitat and travel routes for several species including Hawaiian monk seals, green sea turtles, sharks, whales, Black-footed and Laysan albatrosses as well as other species,” reads the letter signed by Department of Hawaiian Homelands Deputy Chairman William Aila, Office of Hawaiian Affairs CEO Kamanaopono Crabbe, Polynesian Voyaging Society President Nainoa Thompson and others.

If Obama expands the monument, it would be the largest protected area on Earth, they say.

Sean Martin, president of the Hawaii Longline Association, questioned whether there’s been significant cultural activity beyond the current boundary. He believes environmental organizations with deep pockets are using Hawaiian culture to push their agenda at the expense of longline fishermen.

“I think that plays good, sounds good,” he said of highlighting the monument’s cultural significance. “But the reality is that it’s a very important area we work in. … We’re into continuing to support access for U.S. fishermen to fish in U.S. waters.”

He said the association includes 140 vessels.

Aila said the expansion effort isn’t about pitting fishermen against conservation and culture.

“We’re protecting the fishermen that fish out of Kauai and Niihau,” he said. “Then there’s the other folks that go out a little further into the proposed expansion areas.”

Aila described himself as a “small-boat fisherman” and said protecting the expanded area will allow tuna stocks to rebound, creating more fishing opportunities across the state.

“It’s not that longliners can’t fish, they will simply go fish someplace else,” he said.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, a Democrat who represents Hawaii, said he urged the White House to send representatives for meetings in Hawaii on the issue before making a decision.

“The responsible and sustainable practices of our longline fleet have resulted in Honolulu becoming one of the nation’s 10 most productive fishing ports,” he said in a statement that also notes the equally important significance of the monument to Native Hawaiians.

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    • I see Star Advertiser just changed the title to say “Native” Hawaiian leaders. At first I thought they were talking about Mark Dunkerly.

    • The single biggest problem with the existing sanctuary is security and enforcement of the area by federal authorities (USCG and sometimes US Navy). They are barely able to enforce the area now. If it is expanded, what more will the feds be able to do? What good is creating a sanctuary for anything in any remote part of the world, if you cannot ensure it’s security??

      • Again, like Mythmaker below boo tries to inject legislation written for the American Indians into something that somehow is applicable to Polynesian-Hawaiians. Apples and taro boo. apples and taro.

        • From the website boo, “The law establishes a national preservation program and a system of procedural protections which encourage the identification and protection of cultural and historic resources of national, state, tribal and local significance.” This group is basing their claim on a made up “cultural claim”. In other words “tribal” claim. Once again playing on an American Indian theme. They are not nor have they ever been declared Indians.

        • You have a callow mind…in the very cut and paste, it artifculates state, national, and local significance….

        • But, their false claim is one of “culture”. Anyone can see what their ultimate agenda is. Once it is off limits they will claim that part of that “culture” is “gathering rights” so they, just like the American Indians (which they are not) are being “illegally denied” to fish there. They will sue the State and seek to allow ONLY Polynesian-Hawaiians access to fish in those waters. More racist sneaky nonsense from “Native Hawaiian Leaders”.

        • Hmmmn, you’re also a clairvoyant? Again, this original area was imitated under George W, and their is a host of emperical conservation criteria–with culture being one of many many features.

  • The ancient Hawaiian religion was abolished by the native Hawaiians themselves in 1819, the year before the Christian missionaries arrived in 1820. King Kamehameha II, his biological mother Queen Keopuolani who had the highest spiritual status in all Hawaii, his stepmother and governing regent Queen Ka’ahumanu, and Kahuna Nui (High Priest) Hewahewa, together made a public display of breaking a sacred taboo and then ordering the burning of the wooden idols and destruction of the heiaus (stone temples). The native Hawaiian political and spiritual leadership exercised self-determination on behalf of the nation of Hawaii and the native people, to overturn their old religion. But today’s Hawaiian sovereignty activists are reviving the ancient religion — not because they sincerely believe in it, but cynically, as a tool to assert political power and racial control of government decision-making. In recent years we have seen sovereignty activists physically blocking construction of the world’s largest billion-dollar telescope on a mountaintop (Mauna Kea) because, they claim, that mountain is “sacred.” They have blocked the Army from doing live-fire training in a valley (Makua) which, they say, is “sacred.” They have blocked construction projects where old burials are inadvertently discovered, because, they say, native Hawaiian bones are “sacred” and must not be disturbed. And now they say this huge area of the ocean is “sacred.” On each of those and numerous other similar situations, the activists demand race-based veto power over decision-making, and millions of dollars in payoffs to racial organizations. The correct name for what is happening — asserting a theological justification for race-based political power — is Hawaiian religious fascism. It’s just as destructive to the Aloha Spirit in Hawaii as radical Islamism is to the Middle East and Europe. It’s long past time for Hawaii’s political leaders to stand up against Hawaiian religious fascism.

    • You do realize this original conservation area was created by George W.? So while there are elements that touch upon both cultural and anthropological criteria, for the most part, these decisions are rooted on the ability to carry out and further universal conservation principles. That said, thanks for the slanted, pompous and ideological rant….what a treat-not.

      • I appreciate what a struggle it was for you to write your pompous comment. You posted another comment at 6:31 PM on Friday, more than an hour after mine was posted; yet you did not comment on mine. Now, at 5:33 AM on Saturday, more than 12 hours after my comment was posted, you finally managed to make your lousy little response. I guess your low IQ is coupled with your drug-addled brain, so it was clearly a big struggle for you to come up with that drivel.

        • Your assessment is correct as always Dr. Conklin. Of course once they would be successful in their fascist endeavor to have this much larger area declared off limits to everyone their next step would be that only people with one drop of Polynesian-Hawaiian blood can fish there because they somehow should be the only ones allowed to “gather” fish from this area based on some made up concept of “ancient Polynesian gathering rights”. This racist group is soooo easy to read. As you have pointed out it’s the same play book over and over. But alas, the pandering weak politicians who believe they need their votes sell the rest of the good citizenry out every time.

        • Excuse me, on plane to NYC for work, and powered done because we were landing. Unlike you, I have a paying job. That said, like in most instances, you never directly address the substantive and factual submissions I provided. I guess it’s time for the eunuch to take his/her (I’m actually not sure what gender you are) their hypertension meds and consider the last third of your life with type II diabetes….

    • The irritating thing about Ken is that he uses facts and reason. There is so much shibai out here that some Hawaiians get away with that ken represents a threat. I have followed things here carefully and I note that Ken is never refuted. Much of sovereignty rhetoric depends on people being ignorant about the real record.

  • The persons named here are speaking for themselves. Is this a pay off to Nainoa for financial support given to his own project? Or is this the way Prez O handles the failure of his administration to follow the law as written when it comes to native Hawaiians.

    • The law as written? Nice try Mythman. Stop trying to make Polynesian-Hawaiians out to be American Indians. They are not, nor have they ever been.

      • That is so true. Mandans are indigenous native Americans and legitimately a tribal people. We know the difference. Hawaiians are actually recent immigrants here as any archaeologist will tell you.

  • Close off more waters to fishermen is absolutely necessary. Fishermen are just raping the oceans for lack of good management. It is everybody against everybody else. “If I don’t catch it someone else will” is the common attitude, so the fisheries worldwide are being depleted. We need huge areas off limits to fishing, so fish can replenish. Then the total sustainable harvest of fish would be many times the present amount. Get smart people!

    • I agree Allaha about sensible management. However,the Polynesians were anything but good conservation managers. The documentation of their rape and devastation of the aina here in Hawaii has been well documented. They were anything but “conversationalists”. So, to claim now that conservation is somehow part of their “culture” is simply laughable. They are simply playing on the history revisionist sanitized version of what the Polynesian “culture” really was for political gain and control. Nothing but hypocrites.

    • Hawaii’s fishing fleet is responsible for less than 2% of all the tuna taken out of the Pacific Ocean. Several other countries are responsible for taking more than 98%.

      The answer isn’t closing it off with an expanded monument. That just closes it off to Hawaii’s own fishermen, the ones who have the least impact on the stock. The real answer is getting the other countries fishing around our islands to reduce their take.

      If you eat fish then it matters to you. Not just poke or sashimi. That includes canned tuna. Hawaii has always depended upon its ocean resources. It’s incredible that Hawaiians want to give up access to their own resources, while at the same time lamenting how their lands were stolen by that very same government.

      • Correct Sensible01, it doesn’t make sense unless they first take it away, then a new Polynesian-Hawaiian group comes and tries to claim it only for Polynesians in court.

  • Enforcing the no-fish 200-mile limit is a good idea. Many countries already employ this practice where they are in a position to better manage fishing/harvesting of marine life within their international limits.

  • Thanks to Barry and his fellow Dems a lot of open areas throughout the U.S. and it’s territories have been saved by overuse, over fishing, development,drilling,fracking etc. Expand it Barry. If the Republicans get the White House people like Kasich, Jason Chaffetz and Rod Bishop will have no problem selling to the highest bidder. If they are willing to trash their own backyard, they’ll have NO problem trashing anyone else’s back yard.

  • The marine conservation area should be expanded. Period. Hawaii’s fisheries have been decimated for decades with little to no oversight or enforcement of existing laws.

    • Yes yhls, but this group wants to do it with a twist. That is that it should be done based on the Polynesian-Hawaiian culture of “conservation”. Conservation was never part of their “culture”, so why bring that up at all? Because later, once it has become of limits they will readdress the area and claim that Polynesian-Hawaiian “gathering rights” are being “illegally obstructed” and therefore Polynesian-Hawaiians should be allowed to fish there, but no one else. Conservation only works when everyone is on board. This is a racist group out only for political control on land, and now on the sea.

      • Fishing within the full 200 nautical-mile limit of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands should be banned. No exceptions. If we don’t allow the marine life w/in that area to multiply and replenish itself, we’ll have nothing for our future and future generations.

        • I’m all for conservation. But, you remember you said that “no exceptions” Tita when the lawsuit comes by some made up group of Polynesian-Hawaiians claiming it denies what “was stolen from us and is rightfully ours”. And don’t forget their favorite line “this is how we feed our families”.

        • I understand, DD some will claim religious,cultural etc. What THEY need to understand is if they take it all, it doesn’t do any of us any good. And we need to think of future generations. And to those who say “this is how we feed our families”….you will have nothing to feed to your family if the areas are overfished and not allowed to rebound.

  • Marine Conservation areas need to INCLUDE the Main Islands as well;ie Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui and The Big Island. With the ever expanding population on ALL of these Islands.This one of the main reasons that is responsible for the depletion of our precious fisheries.
    As an avid fisherman , i have seen the damage unattended surround net causes and proud to say, i was one of many who came up with idea to register ALL Gill Nets!! Another popular idea(Mine) was to close-off certain shorelines;ie North Shore, South Shore ,East and West shores,with the exception of re-opening AND Rotating them when the fish stock has recovered…..Yes! Expect tons of opposition,but look at it this.It preserves our livlyhood……Fishing!! IMUA

  • Just make catch limits that apply to everyone… that will put the big boats out of business.. we don’t need commercial longline boats just so a few guys can line their pockets and everyone can have cheap poke.. banning all boats from the northwest islands created a playground for b.s. scientists and noaa workers. Most people want the monument because they would never go there anyway, nevermind all the guys Hawaiian or not that are getting screwed out of ever going there because of a bunch of ninnies…

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