I read about NOAA’s proposed changes to the The Hawaiian Islands National Marine Sanctuary three months ago. I knew about the informational meeting held on April 28 in Niu Valley. In fact, I posted it to the event calendar, as I always do when there is an event relevant to the East Oahu area. So, imagine my amazement upon reading that Robin Jones, vice president of the Hawaii Kai Marina Association, which represents three Hawaii Kai shopping centers and about 2,000 commercial operators and residents, only heard about the planned designation last month. Really?
Truth is, I skimmed through the proposal in March and found nothing extraordinary about it. In short, there are four proposals currently on the table, one of them being status quo. Only two proposals, albeit including the recommended one, directly impacts Maunalua Bay,
Under proposals 3 and 4, the following area is added to the designation
Again, it is important to note that this affects just two of the four scenarios put forth by NOAA. The newly added Special Sanctuary Management Area (SSMA) would differ from the current designation only in a few ways. Notably, none of the changes would adversely affect Maunalua Bay users other than those that might remove signage, introduce invasive species, or chase whales. Admittedly, the proposal could affect fireworks launched from the Bay, but as Civil Beat reports, Malia Chow, sanctuary superintendent for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary said that if the regulations are adopted, NOAA may still allow fireworks. Overall, NOAA’s goal in issuing these proposals is more administrative than anything. The primary purpose for proposals 2-4 is to streamline jurisdiction and remove overlapping authorities.
My take on Saturday’s protesters is that they are well-meaning citizens spurred into action by Hawaii Kai Marina business owners with self-serving motives. I personally think that NOAA’s overall plan for proposal 3 is prudent and I will submit my comments accordingly.