More money is needed to protect humpbacks
IT'S good to see an interest in improving the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary ("Demonstrators urge greater humpback whale protection," Star-Bulletin, Jan. 17
). The Lingle administration's proposal to add positions and resources to the Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement makes it timely for discussion.
Now that the state has some experience with co-managing the sanctuary, both federal and state officials and the advisory committee should reconsider some of the proposals that were set aside in order to get the sanctuary established at the outset, including whether additional or different regulations should be adopted. The original sanctuary designation included a comprehensive (often painstaking) public process -- over decades and several national, state and local administrations -- and the resulting compact included a number of admitted compromises.
In addition to local boaters' and fishermen's concerns about additional regulations, enforcement was an issue. Similar to the state, at the time, the local federal agencies were stretched in terms of ocean enforcement, and the overall budget for the sanctuary program nationally remained static. With Homeland Security matters tugging at the Coast Guard, new regulations might well require additional financial support and perhaps new enforcement tools and partnerships.
ANOTHER concern will be adequately funding any expansion or additional enforcement.
The sanctuary program nationwide has seen little growth in its budget. With Sen. Daniel Inouye now chairman of the Commerce Committee, which includes the sanctuary program, perhaps that will change (the committee provides oversight, not appropriations). In the past, research and educational efforts also came from other federal programs, like the Coral Reef Initiative, and earmarks. While all the volunteer work by friends of the sanctuary will continue to be important, doing more will require additional funding.
During the designation process, the sanctuary proposal raised state sovereignty issues because it included state territorial waters (the Navy was allowed by its federal brethren to carve out certain swaths of ocean) without state participation in managing those waters. The adopted compact provided for co-management by the state and an opportunity for the governor to revisit the agreement in five years.
One of the more important issues is expanding the sanctuary ecosystem-wide rather than defending only what former DLNR Chairman Mike Wilson described as the globe's most charismatic megafauna. The current sanctuary is unusual in that it specifically protects the humpback whale. However, the waters of the main Hawaiian islands include other critters, organisms and natural features deserving of sustaining for posterity. Expanding the sanctuary likely will require another extensive public process, unless the president decides to apply the Antiquities Act within the main Hawaiian islands.
AS AN aside, I can't help telling one anecdote about Gov. Ben Cayetano and the sanctuary. Near the end of his second term, Cayetano considered whether to renew the state's agreement to include its territorial waters. There was a suggestion that he make inclusion of the local waters permanent since the incoming governor and administration might have different views of the state sovereignty balance. Aware of the former Maui mayor's expressed concerns during the designation process (the local waters around Maui already provided some "protection" for the visiting whales each winter), Cayetano declined. He wanted the next governor to have the same opportunity to weigh the relationship between federal management and resources and state participation in that oversight. He suggested that the five-year history of co-management indicated to him that the next governor also would discover the value of collaboration and perhaps change her view of federal involvement.
Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran was deputy director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources from 1995-'98, and chairman from 2000-'02. He lives in Wailuku, Maui.