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POSTED: Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Plan aims to cut marine trash

The federal government says it has a new plan to reduce the marine debris that kills coral, marine mammals and fish in the Hawaiian Islands.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration worked together with state, county and private-sector partners to develop a plan to cut back on the trash that winds up in the ocean.

The garbage, like fishing nets, can suffocate reefs and strangle ocean-dwelling animals like the endangered Hawaiian monk seal.

The new plan, announced yesterday, aims to reduce the number of abandoned vessels and fishing gear.

It also hopes to cut back on the debris that is found in waterways on land so this trash does not flow into the ocean.

NOAA and its partners are planning debris removal campaigns and prevention programs.

State's health crisis readiness score rises

Hawaii's score in a national study on emergency health preparedness has been raised a notch.

An initial report from the Trust for America's Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation said Hawaii achieved seven out of 10 key indicators of public health emergency preparedness.

However, they revised Hawaii's score after state health officials found a law that would limit liability against organizations that provide volunteer help during emergencies. Hawaii previously scored zero on that issue.

With points for eight out of 10 indicators, Hawaii was grouped in the “;Ready or Not?”; report with Alabama, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wisconsin.

The study was prompted by the H1N1 swine flu outbreak, which “;vividly revealed existing gaps in public health emergency preparedness,”; Richard Hamburg, deputy director of Trust for America's Health, said in a news release.

Inouye in Japan to aid in U.S. air base issue

U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye is traveling to Japan, in part to help find a solution to a dispute over where to move Futenma air station.

Inouye began his five-day visit yesterday. Inouye and Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., will meet with Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada.

Inouye said the United States' relationship with Japan depends on resolving the Futenma air station situation. Both nations agree that the station, on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, must be moved. But most Okinawans oppose the U.S. position that the base cannot be shut down until a replacement is established somewhere else on the island.

Inouye said his goal is not necessarily to solve the problem, but to listen and establish communication.

Volcano talk will focus on Hualalai

The Big Island's third most active volcano—Hualalai—will be the subject of a free public lecture at 7 p.m. tomorrow in the Kealakehe High School cafeteria in Kailua-Kona.

Jim Kauahikaua, scientist-in-charge of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, will give the presentation in recognition of Volcano Awareness Month.

Hualalai has erupted three times in the past 1,000 years, while Kilauea and Mauna Loa have each erupted more than 150 times, the observatory said.

During Hualalai's most recent eruption in 1801, lava flowed from the volcano's northwestern rift zone to the sea. Kona Airport at Keahole is built on the flow field.

Kauahikaua will describe the 1801 Hualalai eruption and what scientists learned from recent geologic mapping of the volcano, and discuss whether it will erupt again.

Information about Hawaii volcanoes and other events scheduled as part of Volcano Awareness Month is available at hvo.wr.usgs.gov.