Categorized | Environment

BLNR advances traditional fishpond permitting


The state Board of Land and Natural Resources has passed a Master Conservation District Use Permit (CDUP) aimed at facilitating the permitting required for activities associated with the protection and restoration of traditional Hawaiian fishponds across Hawaii.

“This is a triumphant day for cultural practitioners and community organizations,” explained William J. Aila, Jr., BLNR chairperson. “For decades, the effort to restore traditional fishponds has been obstructed by a highly complex multi-agency permitting scheme. Today, we took a huge leap in making restoration and conservation more feasible for grassroots communities.”

While similar efforts have been made in the past, the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), headed by the executive BLNR, took a new, innovative approach to addressing the issue this time.

“In the past, the effort began with granting only a small number of ponds the opportunity to participate, so very few communities benefitted,” said Michael Cain, staff planner for the DLNR Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands (OCCL). “This time, we began with the presumption that community restoration efforts and cultural practices are good for Hawaii and its environment, so we cast the net as wide as possible, hoping to encourage communities to get involved in conservation. As long as a pond and its activities fit into the framework we developed, it is eligible to apply to this program.”

The program was funded by Conservation International and Hawaii Fish Trust and completed by Honua Consulting, a local consulting group, with support from DLNR and other state and federal agencies.

“This program is a wonderful illustration of how partnerships between nonprofit organizations and state agencies play a vital role in managing Hawaii’s fragile environmental and cultural resources,” said Jack Kittinger, the trust’s director.

The next step will be for the issuance of a similar programmatic permit by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“We have worked closely with the Corps on this effort from the start,” said OCCL Administrator Sam Lemmo. “I am confident that the federal agencies involved appreciate as much as we do that this is an opportunity to highlight how state and federal agencies can effectively serve communities when they cooperate.”

Lemmo expects the U.S. Army Corps permit to be issued within one month.

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