STAR-BULLETIN / 2007
This Laysan albatross and chick are on Eastern Island, part of Midway Atoll in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. A World War II-era gun is in the distance.
A new plan details agency responsibilities for the Northwest Hawaiian Islands
Louis Agard, 84, started fishing in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands shortly after World War II. But in just 10 years, he began to notice stocks were rapidly declining, spurring him to push for the government to protect the vast island chain's resources.
Agard's voice quivered with emotion yesterday after the state and federal governments unveiled a plan for managing the 1,400 mile-long marine conservation area President Bush created for the islands in 2006.
"It almost makes me cry," said Agard. "I always say, 'What my eyes have seen you will not see again,' because we are so prone to getting into everything and taking it."
But now, Agard said there's hope the monument's protections will enable future generations to glimpse some of what he witnessed.
"We can follow this all the way, and the people that will be next can enjoy what we saw," Agard said.
Three government entities are to jointly manage the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument: the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the state of Hawaii.
Yesterday, they released a 1,200-page management plan outlining ways they will combat problems like marine debris and invasive species that threaten wildlife habitats.
Officials are asking the public to review the document and submit their comments either by post, e-mail, or in person at meetings scheduled throughout the state in June.
The plan calls for boosting numbers of the Laysan duck, an endangered species, in part by creating and protecting more habitats for the birds. All 800 of the ducks currently in existence live on Midway and Laysan islands.
Another proposed action is to remove marine debris to protect the Hawaiian monk seal, another endangered species.
"The designation of the monument was a spectacular commitment to conservation of the area. But to really bring that designation into reality requires a management plan," said Lynn Scarlett, U.S. Interior Department deputy secretary. This "gives us 15 years of guidance in how to engage in restoration, engage in protection."
Many of the actions are already being pursued by state and federal agencies. The plan, however, lays the foundation for the different entities to break through the bureaucratic barriers dividing them.
"It shows the Hawaiian spirit of ohana of working together as a family even though many of us may have had little different ideas about how to do this," said NOAA Director Conrad Lautenbacher. "But we've come together to create a management plan we can all live with and work with."
Gov. Linda Lingle told officials gathered at Washington Place for a ceremony that she often recalls her two visits to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Especially when she's stressed.
"You might imagine when I'm down at the Legislature I think of it a lot," Lingle joked.
PUBLIC COMMENT SOLICITED ON PLAN
Public meetings on a 1,200-page management plan for the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument:
» Oahu: Waianae Parks and Recreation Complex, June 9
» Maui: Kahului, Maui Arts and Cultural Center, June 12
» Lanai: Lanai High and Elementary School, June 13
» Molokai: Kaunakakai, Kulana Oiwi Halau, June 16
» Oahu: Heeia Visitors Hall, June 19
» Big Island: Kona, King Kamehameha Hotel, June 17
» Big Island: Hilo, Mokupapapa Discovery Center, June 18
» Kauai: Lihue, Hilton Kauai Beach Resort, June 23
» Oahu: Honolulu, Japanese Cultural Center, June 24