Ocean lovers can make
their voices heard
HAVE you ever noticed how many people living in Hawaii might just as well be in landlocked Nebraska for all the attention they pay to the ocean that surrounds them here?
Oh sure, they may occasionally see the encircling sea as a view plain backdrop from their high-rise office or their hillside home, or they may even watch for the fabled green flash at sunset. But they really have no ongoing tactile experiences with it.
Fortunately though, those folks are somewhat balanced out by those who, through either recreation or occupation, often become immersed -- both figuratively and literally -- in the briny deep.
And whether they are anglers, surfers, swimmers, waders, paddlers, divers or sailors, they are the ones our state's Coastal Zone Management organization is hoping to attract input from for its Ocean Resources Management Plan (ORMP).
The plan has been in place since 1991, but from as far back as 1994 -- when our legislature adopted a resolution in support of the plan -- it also, in part, recognized an area of critical concern: a lack of public participation in and awareness of ocean and coastal resources, as well as their management.
As a result, numerous public workshops were held statewide last month in preparation for a three-day Hawaii "Summit-to-Sea" meeting scheduled for May 21-23, 2003.
At the workshop that was held on Oahu at the Ala Wai Golf Course clubhouse, participants were asked what specific issues or concerns they had related to ocean resources management.
Not too surprisingly, there was a broad range of interests expressed that included ecological restoration, the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, ocean recreation and access, shoreline and marina development and privatization, pollution and environmental protection, fisheries and aquaculture, user conflicts and law enforcement.
With the information gathered at these workshops, a presentation will be made early next year in a joint briefing to Hawaii's Senate and House of Representatives to build partnerships between the state's policy makers and its community leaders.
The three day "Summit-to-Sea" meeting in May will then look to create "a strategy for integrated and sustainable ocean resources management," we are told.
To do so, the summit's organizers will work to provide participants with new ideas and opportunities for achieving an integrated ocean resources management strategy.
The summit will also hope to focus on the tools and strategies needed for developing an effective management program.
Following the summit meeting, there are plans for a series of post-summit focus group meetings which will lead to the updating of the original ORMP of 1991.
If you are one of those I mentioned earlier who has a certain affinity for the sea, now is a great time to make sure your ideas and opinions are heard.
More information on the ORMP and on how you can get involved can be obtained by going to its Web site at www.hawaiiormp.com, or by calling the Coastal Zone Management Hawaii office at (808) 587-2846.
You can also write to the CZMH at P.O. Box 2359, Honolulu, HI 96804-2359.
However, just don't let this opportunity pass because you most certainly can make a difference.
Ray Pendleton is a free-lance writer based in Honolulu.
His column runs Saturdays in the Star-Bulletin.
He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.