Response to Grounded Vessel Off Honolulu Continues

Responders continue work, Friday, to remove potential pollutants from the 79-foot fishing vessel Pacific Paradise currently aground off Honolulu, prior to the onset of larger swells and surf.

Responders continue work, Oct. 12, 2017, to remove potential pollutants from the 79-foot fishing vessel Pacific Paradise currently aground off Honolulu, prior to the onset of larger swells and surf. The salvage team are surveying and rigging the vessel for tow to take advantage of favorable tides after removing about two thirds of the the fuel aboard. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Air Station Barbers Point/Released)

“We are working diligently with the salvage team and our partners to ensure a safe and deliberate response,” said Capt. Michael Long, commander, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “The safety of the public and the environment remain our top priority. We have removed about two-thirds of the fuel aboard significantly reducing the pollution threat. Due to the tides and incoming weather we have transitioned to the towing evolution to take advantage of our best window for removal of the vessel prior to the arrival of stronger winds, surf and swells this weekend.”

The salvage team are surveying and rigging the vessel for tow to take advantage of favorable tides.

Roughly 3,000 gallons of fuel was removed by the salvage team before operations were suspended Thursday. Approximately 1,500 gallons remain.

Further assessment by the salvage team Thursday revealed the initial amount of fuel aboard to be 4,500 total gallons of diesel, less than previously reported. No pollution has been sighted in the water or on shore.

A safety zone remains in effect around the vessel extending out 500 yards in all directions from position 21-15.69N 157-49.49W. The public is asked to remain clear of the safety zone to prevent injury or impact to operations.

Partners in the effort include personnel in several divisions of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response, the responsible party, commercial salvors and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Weather conditions in the vicinity of the vessel are 11 mph with waves of up to 3 feet with a long south southwest swell. Rain showers are possible. These conditions are expected to degrade through the weekend. Weather for Oahu is forecast as 25 mph winds with wind waves to 6 feet, but the vessel is somewhat sheltered from the wind by Diamond Head as it’s on the south shore of Oahu.

The Pacific Paradise is a U.S.-flagged vessel and part of the Hawaii longline fleet homeported in Honolulu. Coast Guard response and Honolulu Fire Department crews rescued the master and 19 fishermen from the vessel late Tuesday night following reports that the vessel grounded off Diamond Head near Kaimana Beach. The cause of the grounding is under investigation.

UH Hilo Interns Join Scientists on Marine Research Expedition

Two interns from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Marine Option Program (MOP) have recently returned from a 25-day expedition to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, where they took part in the 2017 Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program (RAMP) cruise conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

School of bigeye trevally (Caranx sexfasciatus) and a NMFS PIFSC CRED diver conducting fish counts at Swains Island, American Samoa, as part of the Pacific Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program (Pacific RAMP). NOAA photo by Ben Ruttenburg of NMFS SEFSC.

UH Hilo’s Roseanna (Rosie) Lee and Keelee Martin were joined by UH Mānoa MOP intern Colton Johnson aboard the Research Vessel Hi’ialakai on the journey to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM), where they worked alongside regular NOAA divers as full members of survey crews, conducting Rapid Ecological Assessments (REAs) of reef fish, corals and non-coral invertebrates. Their work was guided by NOAA scientists and researchers from Papahānaumokuākea, the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research and UH Hilo.

The survey crews visited Lehua, French Frigate Shoals, Laysan Island, Lisianski Island, Pearl and Hermes Atoll, Midway Atoll and Kure Atoll within Papahānaumokuākea to conduct their various activities. The results of their research will help scientists gain a better understanding of the health of coral reef ecosystems throughout the archipelago.

Martin worked on the benthic (sea floor) team that counted, measured and assessed the health of the coral reefs, which are home to over 7,000 marine species. She said the experience made her a better diver, scientist and team player.

“This was a humbling and gratifying opportunity that allowed me to work in an area few people will ever see alongside acclaimed scientists mentoring me the whole way through,” Martin said.

Lee was assigned to the fish survey team, whose work included identifying, counting, and sizing fish for set intervals of time and taking photographs of their habitat. She is now a far more confident researcher and scientific diver.

“The kind of experience you get by jumping into the field and actually getting to do the same work as the established scientists you are working with is a learning experience you can’t get any other way,” Lee said.

Their work drew praise from the scientific leads on their respective teams, who both predicted amazing futures for the interns. REA fish team head Jason Leonard said Lee and Johnson “both performed at very high levels of professionalism and overcame obstacles.” Benthic team leader Stephen Matadobra said of Martin “her excitement and enthusiasm to be in the Monument and collect data gave the team a positive mood every morning.”

Martin, who graduated in May with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Science, a minor in English and a MOP certificate, wants to become a science writer. Lee, a senior, seeking a Bachelor of Science in Marine Science and a MOP certificate, is still considering her career path.

The UH Hilo internships are made possible through a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the NOAA PMNM Division and are available to MOP students who complete the two-week field SCUBA diving course QUEST (Quantitative Underwater Ecological Surveying Techniques). The agreement provides funding to hire up to four students each year to work on the RAMP cruises. Lisa Parr, Instructor of Marine Science, MOP Site Coordinator at UH Hilo, and Principal Investigator on the MOA says the research opportunities the program provides to work with established scientists on important research prepares the students well for careers in marine science.

“Our partnership with NOAA provides an invaluable opportunity for our students, who consistently receive outstanding reviews for their performance on the cruises, and we’re extremely proud of how well they represent UH Hilo, the Marine Option Program, and QUEST,” Parr said.

Additional information on the RAMP cruises is available at
https://www.pifsc.noaa.gov/cred/pacific_ramp.php. For more information on the UH Hilo internships with NOAA email lparr@hawaii.edu.

Responders Work to Remove Fuel, Vessel Grounded Off Honolulu

Responders are working to lighter all potential pollutants from the 79-foot fishing vessel Pacific Paradise currently aground off Honolulu.“The safety of the public is our primary concern as we work with our state partners and responsible party to address the potential pollution threat and salvage the vessel,” said Capt. Michael Long, commander, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu and captain of the port. “I want to thank our state and federal partners who worked with us to affect a safe rescue of the crew and continue to work with us on the response. The Coast Guard is also investigating the cause of the grounding.”

An incident management team has been established. The Coast Guard is working with the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response, the responsible party and commercial salvors to mitigate the potential pollution threat and salvage the vessel. The salvage team is stabilizing the vessel with anchors and will attempt to lighter the vessel fully before dark Wednesday with the intent to remove it from the reef during the next optimum high tide, currently forecast for late morning Thursday.

Approximately 8,000 gallons of diesel, 55 gallons of lube and hydraulic oils and four marine batteries are reported aboard.

A safety zone has been established and is being patrolled by Coast Guard crews. The vessel is about 1,000 feet offshore of Kaimana Beach. The zone extends 500 yards in all directions from position 21-15.69N 157-49.49W. The public is asked to remain clear of the safety zone to prevent injury or impact to operations.

The Coast Guard is working with NOAA’s marine mammal protection division, sanctuaries division, Office of Response and Restoration, NOAA Fisheries and DLNR to minimize impact to any marine mammals. DLNR’s divisions of Aquatic Resources, Boating and Ocean Recreation and the HEER and DOH are assisting in evaluating and minimizing risks to aquatic resources from the grounding and salvage operations and potential fuel spills. No marine mammals have been impacted. Coast Guard survey crews will walk to the beaches as an additional impact assessment tool.

Coast Guard response and Honolulu Fire Department crews rescued the master and 19 fishermen from the vessel late Tuesday night following reports the vessel grounded off Diamond Head near Kaimana Beach. The crew was released to Customs and Border Protection personnel for further action.
The Pacific Paradise a U.S.-flagged vessel and part of the Hawaii longline fleet homeported in Honolulu. The vessel’s last port of call was American Samoa and they were en route to the commercial port of Honolulu. No injuries or pollution are reported. Weather at the time of the incident was not a factor.

Two-Month Repair Work on Akaka Falls State Park Trail Gets Underway

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of State Parks has begun repair work to the 0.4-mile loop trail at Akaka Falls State Park, necessitated due to accidental damage caused by earlier removal of invasive albizia trees in February this year.  Site Engineering was selected as contractor and cost estimate is $297,400. Work is expected to be completed in December.

Akaka Falls (DLNR Photo)

Initial repair work began last week on the longer trail section that is to the right of the loop trail starting point that was closed after the damage. Workers are removing and repairing damaged concrete walkways and steps, and replacing railings

From October 16 – 20 the park will be completely closed for work on the shorter, left side of the trail to the Akaka Falls lookout.  Hopefully this will be the only time the park will need to be closed. If additional closure is needed, an announcement will be posted on the Division of State Parks website and in local news media.

Aside from the closure dates of October 16-20, access to the Akaka Falls lookout area may be interrupted along the shorter, open walkway path, due to equipment and/or material transport to the damaged areas.

The park offers a pleasant family walk through lush tropical vegetation to scenic vista points overlooking the cascading Kahuna Falls and the free-falling ‘Akaka Falls, which plunges 442 feet into a stream-eroded gorge. It requires some physical exertion and will take about 1/2 hour for the full loop.

The paved route, which includes multiple steps in places (not wheelchair accessible), makes an easy to follow loop offering stunning viewpoints of the two waterfalls. To view ‘Akaka Falls only, take the path to the left (south) from the first junction. The waterfall view is just a short walk down the path. For more information see http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/hiking/hawaii/akaka-falls-loop-trail/

Hawaiian Monk Seal “Kaimana” to go up for “Adoption,” Benefit to Support Marine Mammal Response and Rescue in Hawai‘i

For weeks, thousands flocked to Kaimana beach to get a glimpse of the Hawaiian monk seal “Rocky” and her new pup, “Kaimana.” The new pup, the first born in Waikīkī in decades, captured the hearts of millions across Hawai‘i and the world. Now, some lucky individual will have the opportunity to “adopt” the pup at an upcoming fundraiser for marine mammal conservation.

Photo by Jason O’Rourke

Kaimana and three other monk seal pups born this year will be up for “adoption” at the event. The “adoption” includes a large individual framed photo of the pup, a certificate of “adoption,” and an opportunity to visit your “adopted” pup with a monk seal volunteer team (conditions apply).

All of this and more will be part of an event Dolphin Quest Oahu and The Kahala Hotel & Resort are hosting to raise funds for Hawai’i Marine Animal Response and their extraordinary network of volunteers who help to preserve Hawaii’s protected marine species. The event takes place on Friday, October 20, 2017 at The Kahala Hotel & Resort (5000 Kahala Ave, Honolulu, HI) from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.

The event will feature live Hawaiian music from five-time Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award winners Waipuna, delectable food and drinks from The Kahala, and a silent auction featuring local fashion and art.

Individual tickets are available for $125.00 and can be purchased at bit.ly/alohaformonkseals

Hawaiʻi Marine Animal Response (HMAR) is Hawaii’s largest non-profit marine species conservation and response organization. HMAR covers approximately 300 miles of coastline on the islands of Oʻahu and Molokaʻi with a support staff of volunteers, interns and employees. Members of this staff are deployed to the field in response to sightings and to perform surveys, outreach activity, and interventions nearly 9 times per day, on average. Their past annual activity includes over 2,400 protected marine species sightings, over 2,700 occasions of team members engaged in shoreline responses and surveys, and over 50 Hawaiian monk seal and sea turtle related escalations or emergency responses.

Proceeds from the event will go to much needed supplies and equipment for the organization. “We are a small organization with some mighty big responsibilities on our hands, but we have a team of passionate volunteers and staff who dedicate thousands of hours of their time caring for the animals they love. This event is both an opportunity to thank them and to raise money for our nonprofit,” explains Jon Gelman, founder of HMAR.

ADDITIONAL DETAILS:

E Ho‘onui i ke Aloha no ke Kai Ola (To increase our aloha for the living sea) is a benefit for Hawai‘i Marine Animal Response (HMAR) and their network of staff and volunteers who help to preserve Hawaii’s protected marine species every day. This public event will be held at The Kahala Hotel & Resort, and it is sponsored by Dolphin Quest Oahu.

The anticipated high point of the benefit will be the auction, which will feature art, photos, and crafts from throughout Hawai‘i. Also up for auction will be the symbolic “adoption” of each of the four Hawaiian monk seal pups born on Oahu this year, including Wailea, the monk seal born off Ka‘ōhao (Lanikai) and Kaimana, the now-famed pup born in Waikīkī. The symbolic “Adoption” will include:

• A large framed photo of the seal
• A certificate of adoption
• A unique opportunity to visit the seal with the volunteer network (conditions apply)

HMAR also conducts public outreach and education for schools, the public and Hawai’i organizations. Earlier this year, Dolphin Quest was recognized by HMAR as a Hawaii Marine Animal Steward in partnership with Hawai’i Tourism Authority.

Dolphin Quest provides ongoing support and hands-on training for Hawai’i’s stranding network volunteers. In May of this year, Dolphin Quest hosted veterinarians from multiple Hawaiian islands providing valuable experience with healthy dolphins to aid their wild stranding response efforts.

Tickets to the event are available for purchase online for $125 per person as well as premium sponsorship packages for $1000. Availability is limited and the organizers are urging the public to secure tickets as soon as possible to attend this evening of music, food, festivities and marine animal conservation.

Tickets include a gift, heavy gourmet pūpū, and signature non-alcoholic drinks. $1000 Sponsorships include five tickets to the event and promotion of a business or organization in the program and leading up to the event.

Hawaii Governor – Regarding the Repeal of the Clean Power Plan

The Trump Administration’s irresponsible decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan will have devastating effects on our planet for generations to come.

Climate change is real. Hawaiʻi recognizes this and is seeing the impacts firsthand with rising tides, a shrinking biodiversity, massive coral bleaching and eroding coastlines. Weather is becoming more extreme, severely impacting our neighbors.

This island in the Pacific has already taken matters into its own hands by committing to the Paris Accord and hitting key milestones in its ambitious plans to power Hawai‘i on 100 percent renewable electricity by 2045. The State of Hawai‘i is already lowering emissions while growing jobs and the economy. As the federal government steps down in its leadership role for clean energy, Hawaiʻi is rising to the occasion and remains committed.

Governor David Y. Ige

Senator Schatz Statement on Trump Administration’s Decision to Repeal the Clean Power Plan

Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Co-Chair of the Senate Climate Change Task Force, released the following statement on the Trump Administration’s decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan.

“Once again, the administration has put partisan ideology above the health of the American people, our economy, and our planet.  Like their failed attempts to undermine clean water and methane rules, this effort to repeal the Clean Power Plan has no basis in law and will absolutely be challenged in court.

“Climate change is the challenge of our generation. It’s our obligation as the indispensable nation to lead and take action. The administration’s short-sighted decision today abdicates that role. But in the absence of leadership from the White House, momentum behind clean energy is growing, as states, cities, and the private sector continue to move ahead. Our commitment to fighting climate change won’t be weakened. We will continue to take action, with or without the administration’s help.”

Senator Hirono Secures Federal Funding for Clean Energy Research and Development in Hawaii

Kampachi Farms and Makai Ocean Engineering Receive $1.5 Million to Harness Power of Seaweed as Potential Energy Source

Senator Mazie K. Hirono today announced that two Hawaii businesses will receive $1.5 million in U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funding to develop offshore seaweed as a potential clean energy source. The funding was awarded through DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) program.

“These grants recognize the innovative work being done in Hawaii to research and develop renewable energy resources,” said Senator Hirono, member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. “This funding will assess the viability of developing seaweed as an energy source, and explore how to use local resources to meet Hawaii’s renewable energy goals.”

Under the grant, Kampachi Farms in Kailua-Kona received $500,000 to develop an offshore seaweed production farm and test harvesting techniques for future use in renewable energy production.

“Marine agronomy – the culture of limu (seaweed) in oceanic conditions – offers potential for increased production of food, feeds and fuel,” said Neil Sims, co-founder and chief scientific officer of Kampachi Farms. “Using the power of the ocean’s primary production, we can increase availability of healthful food for people, feeds for fish and other animals, and biofuels for a carbon neutral planet, with minimal use of land, freshwater or artificial fertilizers. Offshore culture of limu connects innovative aquaculture with Hawaiian culinary traditions. It also offers – in our estimation – the only possible means of harnessing entrepreneurial resources to create incentives for countering ocean acidification.”

In addition, Makai Ocean Engineering in Honolulu will receive $995,978 to create a model that simulates the ocean to help researchers determine the proper design and estimate costs of offshore seaweed farming systems.

“Makai is thrilled to be selected for award alongside Kampachi Farms by ARPA-E under this innovative program,” said Duke Hartman, vice president of business development at Makai Ocean Engineering. “In addition to advancing the state of the art in macroalgae cultivation, Makai will be strengthening our expertise in technologies with many other applications, such as autonomous and underwater robotics, biological and oceanographic numerical modeling, and offshore engineering. This project builds on our 44 year track record of developing cutting-edge technologies and bringing high-paying, high-tech jobs home to Hawaii for our kamaaina.”

Senator Hirono continues to advocate for ARPA-E funding. Earlier this year, she wrote a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee urging for continued funding for ARPA-E after the President threatened to slash the program by $20 million in an effort to wind it down.

Hawaiian Electric Companies Launch Online Tool to Streamline Solar Application Process

Customers submitting new applications to install private rooftop solar can now complete the process entirely online using a new tool launched by the Hawaiian Electric Companies.

The Customer Interconnection Tool (CIT) is believed to be the first of its kind to provide a seamless, start-to-finish online solar application process that allows customers of Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light to check the status of their applications. The tool provides a user-friendly interface to guide contractors and customers through all steps of the Customer Self-Supply program application process, from submittal to finalizing the agreement.

“We’re excited to offer a streamlined electronic process to our customers,” said Jim Alberts, senior vice president of customer service. “The tool is able to show customers exactly where they are in the application process, which eliminates guesswork. This is one more way to make interacting with our companies as smooth and as easy as possible.”

CIT allows applicants to submit all of their information, including electronic documents, online. For convenience, customers and their designated representatives will have the ability to submit electronic signatures as well.

Applicants are prompted to provide required documentation, reducing the potential for delays caused by errors of omission. The tool also automatically calculates the system size based on four design guidelines, which simplifies the procedure.

Customers will receive regular status updates by email as various milestones are reached, keeping them informed every step of the way.

For more information, visit:

www.hawaiianelectric.com/DistributedEnergyResources

www.hawaiianelectric.com/CITonline

State Holds First Hawai‘i Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission Meeting

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), in partnership with the State Office of Planning, will be holding the first-ever Hawai‘i Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission (Climate Commission) meeting on October 11 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Waikiki Beach Resort, Coral Ballrooms 1 & 2 from 8:30 AM to 12:45 PM.

On June 6, 2017, Governor David Ige signed Act 32 Session Laws of Hawai‘i, 2017, making Hawai‘i the first state to enact legislation implementing parts of the Paris Climate Accord.  The Paris agreement was signed by 195 nations on November 4, 2016, and is the largest, concerted global effort to combat climate change to date.

Unprecedented warming of the atmosphere due to greenhouse gas emissions poses a significant threat to the people of our State.  Suzanne Case, Co-chair of the Climate Commission said, “Hawaii and our Pacific island neighbors contribute a proportionately small amount to global warming, but will experience disproportionate significant effects due to sea level rise, drought, increased storminess, and ecological changes in our marine and terrestrial environments.   The Climate Commission will work with all stakeholders to address these challenges by systematically reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving our resiliency to its serious impacts, utilizing the principles and contributing to the goals set by the Paris agreement.”

It is anticipated that the new Climate Commission will provide direction, facilitation, coordination and planning among state and county agencies, federal agencies, and other partners about climate change mitigation (reduction of greenhouse gases) and climate change resiliency strategies. These include, but are not limited to, sea level rise adaptation, water and agricultural security, and natural resource stewardship.  The Climate Commission will be placed under DLNR for administrative purposes and is headed jointly by the Chairperson of the Board of Land and Natural Resources and the Director of the State Office of Planning, or their designees.

This first meeting will give Commission members a status update of the State Sea Level Rise Vulnerability & Adaptation Report that is due to the State Legislature at the end of the year. It includes an open discussion for the setting of the Climate Commission’s priorities.  Governor David Ige will make an appearance.

The meeting is open to everyone. Anyone with special needs requiring accommodations or assistance, is asked to please contact the DLNR Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands at least four days prior to the public hearing.  For more information contact the OCCL at (808) 587-0377 or visit http://climateadaptation.hawaii.gov/

Monk Seal Drops in at Haumana Bay Nature Preserve

Early morning visitors to the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve in East Oahu were delighted to see a Hawaiian monk seal resting on the beach.  At first, it was thought the seal might be “Rocky,” the female who pupped a seal on Kaimana Beach over the summer, prompting worldwide media attention for mom and her precocious pup.  Since Rocky has never been tagged, volunteers and staff from Hawai’i Marine Animal Response (HMAR) now say they can’t be sure of this seals identity.

DLNR Photo

Seals “haul-out” at Hanauma Bay regularly, but typically up onto the rocky tidal shelves on either side of the popular snorkeling destination. Swimmers report the seal was swimming parallel to the beach prior to it hauling out on the sand on the left side of the beach at about 6:50 a.m.  DLNR Chair Suzanne Case and DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources Administrator Dr. Bruce Anderson happened to be at the bay for a tour and helped set up cones around the resting seal to keep curious people and photographers back.  HMAR staff and volunteers arrived a little later and set up caution signs.  Shortly after nine the seal went back into the water and was last seen swimming back toward the open ocean.

DLNR Photo

Its visit this morning again highlights the safe viewing recommendations from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), DLNR, HMAR and other partners. Basically, people are asked to keep a safe distance from seals resting or sleeping on the beach.  Harassing endangered Hawaiian monk seals in any way violates both federal and state marine mammal protection laws.

Hawaii State Energy Office Schedules Community Meetings on Utility Model Study

The Hawaii State Energy Office (HSEO) will host a series of community meetings across the state next week to solicit community input for a study being done on future models for utility ownership and regulation in Hawaii.

HSEO, a division of the State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), is undertaking the study at the request of the Hawaii State Legislature to evaluate the costs and benefits of various electric utility ownership models, as well as the viability of various utility regulatory approaches to help Hawaii in achieving its energy goals. The study will examine scenarios for each of Hawaii’s counties.

HSEO has contracted with Boston-based London Economics International (LEI) to carry out the study, which is expected to be completed by January 2019. LEI and subcontractor Meister Consultants Group will lead the community meetings for Oct. 9-13. The meeting schedule is as follows:

Maui County:

  • Wailuku, Oct. 9, 5:30 – 7 p.m.. Wailuku Community Center, 395 Waena St. RSVP Link
  • Kaunakakai, Oct. 10, 5:30-7 p.m. Mitchell Pauole Center Main Hall, 90 Ainoa St. RSVP Link
  • Lanai City, Oct. 11, 5:30-7 p.m.  Lanai Community Center, Eighth St. and Lanai Ave. RSVP Link

Hawaii County:

  • Kailua-Kona, Oct. 9, 5:30 – 7 p.m. NELHA Research Campus, Hale Iako Building, 73-970 Makako Bay Drive. RSVP Link
  • Hilo, Oct. 10, 5:30 – 7 p.m.  Waiakea High School, 155 W Kawili St. RSVP Link

Kauai County:

  • Lihue, Oct. 12, 5:30 – 7 p.m. Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, 4431 Nuhou St. RSVP Link

Honolulu County:

  • Waialua, Oct. 11, 5:30 – 7 p.m. Waialua High & Intermediate School, 67-160 Farrington Highway. RSVP Link
  • Honolulu, Oct. 13, approx. 6 – 7:30 p.m. Hawaii Foreign Trade Zone #9, Homer Maxey Conference Center, 521 Ala Moana Blvd. Suite 201, Pier 2. RSVP Link

Next week’s meetings will focus on the topic of utility ownership and the role the utility plays in achieving community and state goals, including achieving 100 percent renewable energy in the electricity sector and minimizing costs. There are two additional rounds of statewide meetings scheduled. The second round of meetings slated for next spring will focus on utility regulatory models, while the third round of meetings next fall will be used to gather community input on draft findings of the report.

Community members planning on attending the meetings are encouraged to RSVP at the link above. Light refreshments will be served. Those unable to attend a meeting in person can view a copy of the material presented, which will be posted on HSEO’s website after the meetings, and may participate by submitting feedback via email to: dbedt.utilitybizmodstudy@hawaii.gov. Questions about the meetings or the study can be emailed to the same address.

Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers Taps Annual Industry Award Winners

The Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers (HTFG) named the recipients of its annual appreciation awards during the recent 27th Hawaii International Fruit Conference. Given to supporters of the state’s local fruit industry, the four 2017 recipients are Eli Ednie of Choice Mart supermarket, Catarina Zaragoza of the Locavore Store, Sweet Cane Café and Xavier Chung.

Inaugural Lesley Hill Service Award winner Xavier Chung with HTFGʻs ED Ken Love

Chung, a junior at Konawaena High School, received the inaugural Lesley Hill Service Award. The new service accolade remembers the late Hilo fruit and vegetable grower who was an avid supporter of Hawai‘i agriculture.
“The HTFG board instituted the new Lesley Hill Service Award to honor Lesley, who served numerous terms as an HTFG officer and enthusiastically contributed to the health and growth of our organization,” shares HTFG executive director Ken Love.

Chung was cited for orchard maintenance assistance at HTFGʻs Kona repositories, two of five throughout the state. The repositories serve as locations for propagation of fruit trees to make cuttings and scion for HTFG members.

In addition to volunteering with HTFG, Chung helps out with the National Park Service in West Hawaii, Na Maka O Papahanaumokuakea and the UH Sea Grant college program.

Recognized for a dedication to promoting locally grown tropical fruit at the Kealakekua Choice Mart, Ednie also volunteers at the HTFG Kona repositories.

Also cited for promoting local fruit was Locavore Store co-founder Catarina Zaragoza. Located in downtown Hilo, the store not only stocks a wide variety of local fruit, but also provides information on varieties and origins. The detailed labeling informs the buyer on the differences of fruit choices so purchasing can be done more accurately.

“This attention to detail is important when introducing consumers to new and different fruits like mamey sapote,” notes Axel Kratel, president of HTFGʻs East Hawaii chapter. “We want buyers to have a good experience, not just so they buy the fruit again, but also so they can better recognize what fruit variety best suits their taste and needs.”

Sweet Cane Café was recognized for serving locally grown fruit in value-added products. The Hilo business grows sugar cane in Onomea using Korean Natural Farming methods. After juicing the cane, the company features it in a line of beverages, slushies, smoothies, elixirs and drink shots served at its two cafes. Sweet Cane also uses a wide variety of fruits in its menu offerings.

“The Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers feels it’s important to recognize those who make significant contributions to the tropical fruit industry across the state,” said Love. “Past winners include chefs, growers and researchers.”

Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers: Marking its 28th year, HTFG was incorporated in 1989 to promote tropical fruit grown in Hawaii. It is a statewide association of tropical fruit growers, packers, distributors and hobbyists dedicated to tropical fruit research, education, marketing and promotion; www.HTFG.org.

Maxillarias Orchids for Hawaii Gardens

“Maxillarias for Hawaii Gardens” is the topic of a presentation by Karen Kimmerle at the next meeting of the Kona Daifukuji Orchid Club 7 p.m. October 11. A potluck starts off the meeting and guests are invited to participate at the Daifukuji Soto Mission Hall.

Random orchid picture.

“Maxillaria orchids are diverse and interesting in both flowers and foliage,” says Kimmerle, co-owner of Sun Orchids in Hilo. Her presentation will look at the many Maxillaria species suitable for growing in Hawaii while sharing tips on their care. Kimmerle will also offer plants for sale.
For info, phone 808-328-8375.

The Kona Daifukuji Orchid Club is West Hawai‘i’s oldest orchidaceae organization with a mission to learn and foster orchid culture and promote fellowship among orchid collectors. The club meets the second Wednesday of every month at the Daifukuji Soto Mission Hall on Hwy. 11 at mile marker 114, just north of Kainaliu. For information, visit www.facebook.com/orchidsinparadise.

Local Environmental Group Partners with New York Artists to Build Giant Blue Whale Out of Plastic Trash

Since early July, Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund (HWF) and volunteers have been working to fill a 40 ft. Matson container with blue and white plastics for an architecture couple in Brooklyn, NY. Jason Klimoski and Lesley Chang of StudioKCA plan to build a 30 ft. blue whale sculpture made entirely out of the collected plastic marine debris. The whale sculpture will be installed as part of a triennial event in the town of Bruges, Belgium in May 2018.

Jason Klimoski (5th from top right) and Lesley Chang (3th from bottom right) of StudioKCA and Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund Collection Team volunteers from Innovations Public Charter School in Kona. Photo by Alejandro Durán / WashedUp Project.

“The Bruges Whale is meant to spark conversation and raise awareness about the tremendous amount of plastic waste that is ending up in our oceans, hopefully helping the nearly 2,000,000 anticipated visitors reconsider what and how we consume, package, and dispose of plastic” said Jason Klimoski, StudioKCA. Jason adds, “Special thanks to Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund for their tremendous effort over the course of the last several months, helping us collect blue, white, and grey plastic to build ‘Skyscraper’, or ‘the Bruges Whale’ for the 2018 Bruges Triennial”.

In total, 17 Hawai‘i Island cleanup events were coordinated by HWF to fill the shipping container with approximately 3,000 lbs. of plastics while it was stationed at the Wai‘ōhinu Transfer Station in Ka‘ū. Additionally, Surfrider Foundation volunteers on Kaua‘i collected 1,000 lbs. of plastic debris that were added to the container once it reached Hilo courtesy of a Young Brothers gratis-shipping grant that was received by HWF. Matson Navigation was another supporter of the project by extending the time allowed to fill the container for free. Kona Trans also provided StudioKCA with a discounted hauling rate for the project and the County of Hawai‘i’s Department of Environmental Management provided HWF space to store the 40 ft. container for 12 weeks as volunteers contributed to fill it with plastic debris, making this effort an especially collaborative project by local businesses and residents alike. The container will ship from Hilo on Oct. 4, to begin its journey to New York, and later Belgium.

“We are thrilled to able to work with artists to create awareness installations, like this Blue Whale project, and simultaneously divert some of this plastic pollution from our island landfills. Since 2003, HWF and volunteers have removed nearly 225 tons of debris from the shores of Hawai’i Island. Whatever cannot be recycled, generally ends up in landfills. Innovative projects that include re-use, art, research, and recycling are always preferred!” said Megan Lamson, HWF Hawai’i Island Program Director.

HWF is a small nonprofit conservation organization founded in 1996 to conserve native wildlife. During its 21-year existence, HWF and volunteers have removed a total of 260 tons of marine debris from the shores of Hawai’i Island (86% by weight), Maui, Midway and the French Frigate Shoals. In 2017 alone, HWF and volunteers have removed 63,343 lbs. of marine debris from Hawai’i Island & Maui during 51 community cleanup events. The majority of HWF’s marine debris removal work is conducted by volunteer labor, with financial support from the federal government (NOAA’s Marine Debris Program), local businesses (Matson Navigation, Kona Surf Film Festival, Kona Brewers Festival, Norwex, etc.), and individual donations from around the world.

If you would like more information on the project or how to get involved with HWF, please contact them at kahakai.cleanups@gmail.com or at 808-769-7629 or check out the HWF website at www.wildhawaii.org. For information about Jason Klimoski and Lesley Chang of StudioKCA, visit www.studiokca.com.

UPDATE – Just received a call from Kona Trans and the corrected scale weight of the “blue whale” debris plastics in the 40′ container is actually 19,212 lbs. (we had super underestimated at 4,000 lbs.!!).

9.5 tons of marine-debris plastics from Hawai’i Island and Kaua’i are shipping to Brooklyn from the port of Hilo tomorrow.

NOAA Awards Nearly $200,000 to Protect Hawaii’s Marine Mammals

Senator Mazie K. Hirono today announced that Hawaii conservation programs will receive nearly $200,000 in National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) funding for the recovery and treatment of stranded marine animals.

“We were all captivated by the birth of Kaimana the monk seal on the shores of Waikiki this summer. But, marine mammals are threatened by climate change, development, and pollution,” said Senator Hirono. “This funding will help two Hawaii organizations with a history in marine mammal protection to conduct research on marine mammal mortality and rehabilitate and release monk seals.”

This year’s John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance grant was awarded to The University of Hawaii (UH) and The Marine Mammal Center for their work to support conservation research. As part of the grant funding, UH will receive $100,000 to investigate causes of mortality in Pacific Island marine mammals.

“Whales and dolphins are sentinels of ocean health, and like a canary in a coal mine are one of our first indicators of change to Hawaii’s marine ecosystem,” said Dr. Kristi West, standing director for the University of Hawaii at Manoa. “As the only entity in the state that conducts cause of death investigations for stranded dolphins and whales, we rely heavily on the Prescott grant to determine what threatens the survival of 20 different species of dolphins and whales that call Hawaii home.”
In addition, The Marine Mammal Center will receive $98,951 to support its Hawaiian Monk Seal Rehabilitation Program.

“Public-private partnerships are essential for the successful conservation of the endangered Hawaiian monk seal,” said Dr. Jeff Boehm, Executive Director of The Marine Mammal Center, which operates Ke Kai Ola in Kailua Kona, a dedicated hospital for monk seals. “The critical funds from this award allow us to continue to rehabilitate vulnerable seals, understand health trends in the population, and enhance community involvement in recovery efforts.”

Senator Hirono continues to advocate for the protection of federal funding for NOAA. Earlier this year Senator Hirono and Susan Collins (R-Maine) led a bipartisan letter to the Trump administration urging reconsideration of proposed cuts to NOAA’s budget that would disproportionately hurt Hawaii and other coastal states.

The Trump administration’s 2018 budget proposal currently threatens to zero out funding for the John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program and other important NOAA programs.

Board of Land and Natural Resources Approves TMT Permit

Recognizing its responsibility to strike a balance between native Hawaiian traditional and cultural practices and other stakeholders in the state, a 5-2 majority of the Hawai‘i Board of Land and Natural Resources (the Board) adopted today the recommendation of retired judge Riki May Amano to approve the application for a Conservation District Use Permit (CDUP) to build the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT).

Board and DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “This was one of the most difficult decisions this Board has ever made. The members greatly respected and considered the concerns raised by those opposed to the construction of the Thirty-Meter Telescope at the Mauna Kea Science Reserve.”

Supporters of the project testified during a contested case hearing and in oral arguments that Hawaiian culture and modern science can co-exist on the mountain. Construction of the TMT is expected to provide jobs for more than 100 people and at completion, permanent jobs for as many as 140 workers on the island of Hawai‘i. The consortium of research universities behind the TMT have provided $2.5 million for scholarships, classroom projects, and STEM grants every year since 2014. Under the CDUP, builders of the TMT must provide an additional one million dollars each year for college scholarships for native Hawaiians and other educational initiatives on Hawai‘i Island.

The Board adopted 43 conditions to the permit including Governor David Ige’s previously detailed “path forward” 10-point plan requiring the University of Hawai’i to decommission three existing telescopes, any future development to occur on existing sites, and the TMT site to be the last new site on Mauna Kea. Additional conditions include:

  • Design choices to mitigate visual and aesthetic effects
  • Waste minimization plan for hazardous & solid waste, including a zero discharge wastewater system
  • Cultural and natural resources training for workers
  • No impact to water resources under the public trust doctrine, Lake Waiau hydrology & water resources considerations
  • Educational exhibits, specific community outreach efforts and cultural observation days
  • Invasive species prevention and control
  • Continued public access and continuing consultations with cultural practitioners
  • Arthropod monitoring and Wekiu bug habitat restoration study

A copy of the preface to the Board’s Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Decision and Order is attached.

Board’s Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Decision and Order: https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/mk/files/2017/09/882-BLNR-FOFCOLDO.pdf

‘Alalā Released Into Natural Area Reserve

Six young ‘Alalā—critically endangered Hawaiian crows—were released into Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve on the Island of Hawai‘i, today. The first group of birds: two females and four males took some time to emerge from the aviary where they had been temporarily housed and they appeared to show a natural curiosity for their surroundings. Plans are to release a second group of five birds: two females and three males in mid-October from the same release aviary.

Previously, in December 2016 a reintroduction attempt was halted after challenges posed by winter storms and predation on ‘Alalā by `Io, (Hawaiian hawk). The concerted reintroduction efforts, funded by the State of Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), San Diego Zoo Global, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have addressed those challenges by changing the timing of release to avoid winter storms, changing the release site location, releasing a social group of both males and females, and enhancing the “antipredator training program” to teach the released birds how to better respond to predators like `Io.  A high mortality rate is associated with releasing species into the wild. This is especially true for species like ‘Alalā that have been in captivity for longer periods of time. A successful conservation breeding program gives managers the flexibility to adapt their management techniques to improve successful transition to the wild. Conservation breeding programs are key tools for recovering threatened and endangered species.

For example, the nēnē, or Hawaiian goose, has returned from the brink of extinction thanks to an intensive breeding program and the dedication of many partners over decades, and this species still requires active management and monitoring. For ‘Alalā, these continued efforts are also essential to the species’ recovery.

“The recovery of the ‘Alalā is an excellent example of partners working together to do something that has never been done before.” said Bryce Masuda, conservation program manager of the Hawai‘i Endangered Bird Conservation Program. “Although bringing the ‘Alalā back from the brink of extinction will take a lot of time and perseverance, many people are dedicated to saving this important species.”

Nine of the 2017 release birds were moved to a flight aviary in early 2017, to allow them to acclimate to the sights and sounds of the Hawaiian forest, and to socialize them with the two males that survived the December 2016 release. They were then transferred to a smaller aviary in the forest two weeks prior to the release. Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve is an area that conservationists of the Three Mountain Alliance and DLNR have worked for decades to preserve, protecting native plants and species, and it represents a type of high-elevation habitat where ‘Alalā originally lived before their numbers began to decline.

The outcomes of the 2016 release posed great conservation challenges to the members of the ‘Alalā Working Group, the decision-making body of the ‘Alalā Project. The next step to the recovery for ‘Alalā could only be realized through innovative thinking, consultation with outside experts, and extensive revisions to the reintroduction strategy. This was a process that took over six months to complete. “If not for the strength of partnerships in the ‘Alalā Working Group, we would not be able to move forward as efficiently as we have”, said Jackie Gaudioso-Levita, project coordinator of the ‘Alalā Project. In addition to the funding agencies and organizations of the ‘Alalā Project, cooperative partners include Kamehameha Schools, Three Mountain Alliance, U.S. Geological Survey, and the National Park Service.

The ‘Alalā, or Hawaiian crow, has been extinct in the wild since 2002, preserved only at the Keauhou and Maui Bird Conservation Centers managed by San Diego Zoo Global’s Hawai‘i Endangered Bird Conservation Program. With more than 125 individuals of the species at the centers, conservationists are ready to return the birds to their native forests. ‘Alalā are an important part of the life of the Hawaiian forest, as they eat and assist with the dispersal of native plant seeds. The reintroduction of this species, which has been gone from the forest for more than a decade, is expected to play an important part in the overall recovery of the ecosystem. ‘Alalā are not only ecologically significant as dispersers of Hawai’i’s native plants, but they are also significantly revered in Hawaiian culture. At sunrise on the day of the bird’s release, a ceremony was held by members of the ʻAlalā Project to set the intentions for their return to their forest home.

“Recovering threatened and endangered species takes dedicated partnerships like The ‘Alalā Project,” said Michelle Bogardus, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Geographic Team Leader for Maui Nui and Hawaii Island. “We will continue to work with our partners to protect and recover Hawaii’s threatened and endangered species.”

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case commented, “This has been an ongoing learning process for everyone, to get it right for the ‘Alalā to learn the skills they need to survive. The entire project highlights the benefits of protecting habitat and addressing threats such as predators, disease, and invasive species before populations decline so rapidly that recovery becomes even more challenging.”

Six Alala Released into Hawaii Natural Area Reserve from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Mayor Kim to Declare October “Stop the Ant” Month in Hawaii County

This Friday, September 29th, Mayor Harry Kim will sign a proclamation declaring the month of October “Stop the Ant Month” for Hawaii County.

The Big Island will be joining with the rest of the state in an effort to raise awareness about the threat of little fire ants in Hawaii. The tiny pest, first detected in Puna in 1999, has been confirmed in every district on Hawaii Island and populations have been found on Oahu, Maui, and Kauai.

Little fire ants are considered a threat not just because of their painful sting, but also due to their impacts on agriculture and threat to food security. Little fire ants are associated with plant pests such as aphids and mealy bugs, and have driven farmers in other Pacific islands to abandon their farms. They are also associated with cloudiness and blinding in the eyes of domestic animals, including dogs, cats, and horses.

On the Big Island, residents have been very active in working to reduce LFA populations and mitigate the threat. In the last two years alone, over 2,000 Hawaii islanders have attended training on LFA control provided by BIISC or the Hawaii Ant Lab. More than two dozen neighborhoods are currently working on a year-long plan to eradicate the ants from localized areas.

Stop the Ant month is an effort to urge all residents of the state of Hawaii to survey their property for little fire ants. Because the ants are tiny (less than 1/16th of an inch) they are difficult to see. Ants can be present for six months ore more before they reach noticeable levels, and many people mistakenly believe the ants are not present because they have not yet been stung.

To remain fire ant-free, Big Island residents should survey for fire ants using peanut butter and chopsticks 4 times a year. Infestations can be controlled, but require regular and consistent effort.

More information can be found at StopTheAnt.org.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Offers Free Entry and Stewardship Opportunities on National Public Lands Day

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park offers free entrance and two opportunities to help protect Hawai‘i this Saturday, National Public Lands Day, Sept. 30, by removing invasive plant species in the park and in the Ocean View community.
In honor of National Public Lands Day, the largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands in the United States, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is offering the Stewardship at the Summit program from 9 a.m. to noon. Meet volunteers Paul and Jane Field at Kīlauea Visitor Center at 8:45 a.m., then head into the forest to remove Himalayan ginger from the summit of Kīlauea.

NPS Photo

Himalayan ginger is one of the most invasive plants in the park, and on earth. It is listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as one of the 100 World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species. The park strives to protect the rainforest habitat of native birds and plants, but Himalayan ginger takes over the native rainforest understory, making it impossible for the next generation of forest to grow, and it crowds out many native plants, including pa‘iniu (a Hawaiian lily), ‘ama‘u fern, and others. Wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes and long pants. Bring a hat, sunscreen, raingear, snacks, and water. Loppers/gloves provided. No advance registration required.

Volunteers for Stewardship at the Summit on Saturday will receive a free park pass to use on another date of their choosing.

In Ocean View, volunteers are needed to remove invasive fountain grass from roadsides in Hawaiian Ocean View Estates (HOVE). Meet at the Ocean View Community Center on Sat., Sept. 30 at 9 a.m.; bring lunch, water, a hat and sun protection. This noxious weed increases the risk of wildfire. In 2005, fountain grass was responsible for a 25,000-acre fire that forced evacuation of Waikoloa Village. Contact Park Ecologist David Benitez at (808) 985-6085 or email him at david_benitez@nps.gov for more information about this project.

Every year on National Public Lands Day (NPLD), all fee-charging national parks offer free entry. Many parks and public lands across the nation organize stewardship projects and special programs on NPLD to raise awareness about why it is important to protect our public lands.