Categorized | Environment, Featured, Government, News

Gov. Ige urges President Obama to expand Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument

Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument

Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing to convey my support for the expansion of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument as proposed by Senator Schatz in his June 16, 2016 letter.

There has been a tremendous debate locally on this issue, and I have met with both proponents and opponents listening closely to the concerns of both. While the expansion to the 200-mile EEZ boundary will present some challenges in the short term, it carefully balances the very real human needs of today with the future health of the ecosystem that sustains life in these precious Hawaiian Islands.

Mahalo to your administration for taking the time to conduct direct meetings and public forums to hear from the public, even though this proposal involves only federal waters and does not impact state jurisdiction. Doing things the right way for the right reasons leads to better decisions, and I know the input of fishers, Hawaiian cultural practitioners, scientists, conservationists and others interested in the proposal strengthened it.

Based on public input, I appreciate that Senator Schatz’s proposal limits the expansion in the current monument southern boundary, to preserve popular fishing grounds for recreational, subsistence and commercial fishers from the main Hawaiian Islands. I understand the proposed boundary eliminates an area representing about 6.5% of the Hawai’i commercial longline fleet’s current catch in pounds; fishing effort can be moved to other locations with some impact in travel time and fuel costs, but no material decrease in annual catch is expected.

A related issue that has emerged from my review is the inter-relationship between the much larger purse-seine fishing industry in the Pacific and the smaller longline fishing industry, and the relative impact on the health of the tuna fisheries and on the Hawai’i-based fishing industry. I strongly urge you to direct federal agencies to investigate the equitable balance of the fisheries in international treaty negotiations with regard to economics and fishery sustainability.

As stated in my December 2015 letter to Secretaries Jewell and Pritzker, I request that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs be added as a fourth co-trustee of Papahanaumokuãkea Marine National Monument. I request as well that the federal-state monument collaborative co-management structure extend to the expansion area. The State of Hawai’i appreciates your thoughtful consideration of this proposal and the opportunities that your administration has afforded our communities to engage in this collaborative process. In these times of increasing global threats to our natural and cultural resources, globally significant action will preserve our heritage in the Papahãnaumokuakea Marine National Monument for our keiki and our collective future.

You may be familiar with the Hawaiian proverb, E ota ke kai, e ota käkou — As the ocean thrives, so do we. This proposal strikes the right balance at this time for the waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands, and it can be a model for sustainability in the other oceans of planet Earth.

Governor, State of Hawai‘i

PDF version of letter

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