• Follow on Facebook

  • what-to-do-media
  • puako-general-store
  • air-tour-kauai
  • Cheneviere Couture
  • PKF Document Shredding
  • Arnotts Mauna Kea Tours
  • World Botanical Garden
  • Hilton Waikoloa Village
  • Hilton Luau
  • Dolphin Quest Waikoloa
  • Discount Hawaii Car Rental
  • 10% Off WikiFresh

  • Say When

    June 2017
    S M T W T F S
    « May    
     123
    45678910
    11121314151617
    18192021222324
    252627282930  
  • When

  • RSS Pulpconnection

  • Recent Comments

US Navy Missile Defense Test Fails Off Hawaii

An interceptor missile fired from a US Navy destroyer off the coast of Hawaii failed to hit it’s target, the US Missile Defense Agency said:

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency and the Japan Ministry of Defense conducted a development flight test today of a new Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA missile off the coast of Hawaii.

A planned intercept was not achieved.

US Navy destroyer John Paul Jones (DDG 53) fires a missile interceptor in this file photo

The SM-3 Block IIA is being developed cooperatively by the U.S. and Japan to defeat medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. This is a new, developmental interceptor that is not yet fielded by either country.

At approximately 7:20 p.m., Hawaii Standard Time, June 21 (1:20 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, June 22), a medium-range ballistic target missile was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii. The USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) detected and tracked the target missile with its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar using the Aegis Baseline 9.C2 weapon system. Upon acquiring and tracking the target, the ship launched an SM-3 Block IIA guided missile, but the missile did not intercept the target.

Program officials will conduct an extensive analysis of the test data. Until that review is complete, no additional details will be available.

This was the fourth development flight test using an SM-3 IIA missile, and the second intercept test. The previous intercept test, conducted in February 2017, was successful.

Though currently still in the development and test phase, the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor is being designed to operate as part of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system. Currently, the Aegis BMD system operates with the SM-3 Block 1A, SM-3 Block 1B, and SM-6 interceptors.

Hawaii Department of Health Approves Production Centers for Medical Marijuana Licensees on Kauai and Oahu

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) today issued Notices to Proceed to Acquire and Cultivate Marijuana to Manoa Botanicals LLC for their second production center on Oahu and to Green Aloha Ltd. for their first production center on Kauai. The licensees have met all requirements to begin growing marijuana at their approved facilities.

Manoa Botanicals is the third dispensary licensee to complete and operate two medical marijuana production centers. Green Aloha Ltd. is the is the fifth dispensary licensee to receive approval to acquire and grow marijuana at their first production center.  In May, Aloha Green Holdings and Maui Grown Therapies received approvals for their second production centers on Oahu and Maui respectively. In February, Pono Life Sciences on Maui became the fourth licensee to operate a production center.

“The dispensary licensees have made excellent progress in developing their production sites in compliance with all state laws and regulations to provide a safe product and ensure patient and public health and safety,” said Keith Ridley, chief of the DOH Office of Health Care Assurance. “All of the licensees have worked hard to meet state standards to create a quality industry in Hawaii.”

Brian Goldstein, chief executive officer of Manoa Botanicals said, “We’ve put considerable research, time and money into building a growing facility with the most current technology available to ensure consistent high quality products for our patients. Our nursery plants are ready to go, and we can’t wait to see our first harvest this summer.”

Justin Britt, chief executive officer of Green Aloha said, “It took a lot of work to comply with the state laws and regulations to grow cannabis, but it is all worth it because the result is safer, higher quality medicine for Kauai’s patients.”

To receive a Notice to Proceed from DOH, dispensary production centers must comply with statutory and regulatory requirements that include building a secure, enclosed indoor facility; operating a computer software tracking system that interfaces with the state’s system and submits current inventory data of all marijuana seeds, plants and manufactured products in the production center; and authorization from the Narcotics Enforcement Division of the Hawaii State Department of Public Safety.

More information on the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program is available at http://health.hawaii.gov/medicalmarijuanadispensary/.

A total of eight medical marijuana dispensary licenses were issued in April 2016. Three dispensary licenses for the City and County of Honolulu were issued to Aloha Green Holdings, Inc.; Manoa Botanicals, LLC; and TCG Retro Market 1, LLC dba Cure Oahu. Two licenses for the County of Hawaii were issued to Hawaiian Ethos, LLC and Lau Ola, LLC. Two licenses for the County of Maui were issued to Maui Wellness Group, LLC and Pono Life Sciences Maui, LLC. One license for the County of Kauai was issued to Green Aloha, Ltd.

Each dispensary licensee is allowed to operate two production centers and two retail sites for a total of 16 production centers and 16 retail dispensary locations statewide. Each production center may grow up to 3,000 marijuana plants.

8 Additional Mumps Cases Reported in Hawaii – Outbreak Continues

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed eight (8) additional cases of Oahu residents with mumps bringing the total number of cases in 2017 to 89. The recently confirmed cases include children and adults. None of the individuals required hospitalization and all have recovered or are recovering.

The department expects to see more cases of mumps in Hawaii as the viral disease is highly contagious and circulating on Oahu. Information on case numbers is updated regularly at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/department-of-health-investigating-mumps-cases/.

The DOH is recommending all adults born in or after 1957, without evidence of immunity to mumps, who cannot verify previous MMR vaccination, should receive at least one MMR vaccine dose. Individuals with only one documented MMR dose, are strongly encouraged to consider receiving a second MMR vaccine dose.

MMR vaccine is available at local pharmacies across the state. To locate a vaccinating pharmacy, go to http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/vaccines-immunizations/vaccine-locators/ or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

Additional information about mumps and the ongoing investigation can be found on the DOH website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/department-of-health-investigating-mumps-cases/.

Radar Studies on Kaua`i Highlight Perilous State of Endangered Seabirds

An analysis of long-term radar studies on Kaua‘i has revealed massive declines in populations of the island’s two endangered seabirds, the Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project (KESRP) announced today.  The study, due to be published online in the scientific journal Condor on June 5th, shows that between 1993 and 2013 populations of the ‘A‘o (Newell’s Shearwater) declined by 94% and Ua‘u (Hawaiian Petrel)  by 78%.

Newell’s Shearwater chick. Photo by Andre Raine

“The results of this study demonstrate just how poorly these two iconic birds have fared on Kaua‘i over that time period,” said Dr. André Raine, lead author of the paper.  “With the majority of our radar sites showing massive decreases in numbers of these birds over the years, populations of the birds are in a rapid downward trajectory – particularly in the south and east of the island.  The study highlights just how critical recent conservation initiatives for the species on Kaua‘i are if we are to have a hope of reversing the situation.”

The study used truck mounted radar at 15 standard sites around the island.  Radar surveys at these sites were started in 1993 by Robert Day and Brian Cooper of ABR Inc., and were continued near-annually by the Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project from 2006 onwards.  Radar is utilized worldwide to study birds and is a key tool to monitor the island’s seabirds as they fly overhead in darkness to and from their breeding colonies and the sea.  The radar allows observers to “see” the birds flying overhead in the darkness as a series of dots passing across the radar screen.  By assessing the speed of movement, the direction of travel, and the time that the event is recorded, birds are identified to species.

“Kaua‘i’s endangered seabirds are under threat from a whole suite of issues, including introduced predators such as feral cats, powerline collisions, light attraction and invasive plants – as well as threats at sea which could include overfishing, by-catch and the effects of climate change.

Kaua‘i holds 90% of the world’s population of ‘A‘o and a significant proportion of the world’s population of Ua‘u, so it is vital that we protect these birds,” continued Dr Raine. “Recent conservation initiatives on the island from a wide range of different organizations, land-owners and entities have shown that people are become more and more aware of the perilous state of these birds.  This gives me hope that we can reverse these spiraling trends.”

Radar work will continue on Kaua‘i in 2017, starting now until the middle of July.  For more information on this critical component of KESRP’s work, please visit the project website at http://kauaiseabirdproject.org/. The Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project is a joint project between the Department of Land & Natural Resources (Division of Forestry & Wildlife) and the University of Hawai‘i (Pacific Co-operative Studies Unit).  Radar surveys are funded via a State Wildlife Grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services.

Hawaii Mumps Outbreak Continues – Seven New Cases Confirmed

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) today confirmed six (6) additional cases of Oahu residents with mumps and one additional case of a resident on Kauai bringing the total number of cases in 2017 to 65. The recently confirmed cases include children and adults whose infection is linked to other cases on Oahu. None of the individuals required hospitalization.The department expects to see more cases of mumps in Hawaii as the viral disease is highly contagious and circulating on Oahu. Information on case numbers is updated regularly at http://health.hawaii.gov/…/department-of-health-investigat…/.

Mumps is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus is also spread by sharing items such as cups or eating utensils, or by touching contaminated objects or surfaces and then touching the eyes, nose, or mouth.

Prevent the spread of mumps in our community by:

  • Ensuring your family is fully vaccinated with the MMR vaccine. High vaccination coverage helps to limit the spread of mumps. Two doses of the vaccine are 88 percent effective at protecting against mumps and one dose is 78 percent effective. Being fully vaccinated can help protect loved ones, family members, friends, classmates and coworkers.
  • Patients suspected or diagnosed with mumps should self-isolate and avoid going out and exposing others for nine (9) days after onset of parotitis (tender, swollen jaw).
  • People who have been exposed to mumps and are not vaccinated should not attend school, work or travel from day 12 through day 25 after exposure.

MMR vaccine is available at local pharmacies across the state. To locate a vaccinating pharmacy in your community, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/…/vaccines-immun…/vaccine-locators/ or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1

Eleven Arrests, Marijuana Plants, and Illegal Crossbow Mark Latest Napali Enforcement Effort

Work to restore the Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park to its true wilderness character continued during a three-day law enforcement operation this week. A dozen officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) and the Dept. of Public Safety’s Sheriff Division arrested eleven people for being in a closed area without a permit in the Kalalau area of the park.  A twenty-year-old man, who could not produce an identification, was handcuffed and flown out of the park and booked on charges at the Kaua‘i Police Department.  So far in May, a total of 28 people have been arrested for failing to have the permit required for traveling past the two-mile marker on the famed Kalalau Trail.  During law enforcement efforts over the past two years more than 200 people have been arrested.

“We still have work to do,” commented DOCARE Enforcement Chief Robert Farrell. On this, his first trip to the Nāpali Coast since becoming state conservation enforcement chief, he joined his officers as they hiked up the rugged Kalalau Valley in search of illegal squatter camps.  On Wednesday they located numerous camps.  At two, they pulled up small marijuana plants.  At one they confiscated an illegal crossbow. Both camps are well established and elaborate.  One, where squatters had recently posted a web video depicting a brazen party and all the comforts of home, had a pizza oven, an enclosure with a queen-sized bed, what appeared to be an alcohol still, and an extensive system of solar and battery powered lights for its marijuana growing operation.

Farrell added, “The Nāpali coast is very, very remote. It’s logistically challenging to get officers to the area and it’s difficult to have them stay for long-periods of time for sustained enforcement. Beyond satellite phones, there’s no communications. There are a lot of places for people to run and hide, and though clearly some of the camps had significant populations, once they know we’re coming in, they hide.  DOCARE plans to increase its frequency of patrols, which unfortunately means shorting attention in other areas.  The division fully supports the Division of State Parks’ continuing efforts to secure funding for dedicated, full-time staff in Hawai‘i’s largest and most remote park to provide education, outreach, emergency response assistance, and law enforcement notification.”

The chief, who has previously worked as a game warden in California as well as in the field on Hawaiʻi Island, said, “What’s happening in Kalalau is reminiscent of illegal pot growing operations on state and federal lands in California.  Like the California marijuana growers, the Kalalau squatters have no regard for the law or for protection of natural and cultural resources.

He added, “People with permits should be able to enjoy one of the most unique and beautiful landscapes on the planet without the fear of being harassed or having their experience diminished or threatened by those who simply do what they want, where they want, and how they want.  We are continuing to have zero tolerance for these kinds of behaviors and when we catch you, you will be arrested.”

The Nāpali coast enforcement operations are fully supported by DLNR leadership. Chair Suzanne Case said, “Law abiding local residents and visitors from all over the world get permits to make the challenging and rewarding 11-mile, one-way hike to the State designated camping area at Kalalau Beach.  We’re charged with determining the carrying capacity of both the natural resource and manmade features there, and want to ensure that visitors to this incredible place take away positive memories.  Many have planned for a life-time to do the Kalalau backpack, and we intend to honor their dreams and accomplishments by ensuring Nāpali is a true wilderness.”

May 2017 Napali Enforcement VNR from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

12 New Cases of Mumps Reported in Hawaii in Last Two Days

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) today (May 16, 2017: DOH has confirmed three (3) additional cases of adults with mumps on Oahu.) confirmed three (3) additional cases of mumps in Hawaii residents, bringing the total number of cases in 2017 to 42.

Yesterday, Department of Health confirmed 9 new cases. Of the cases confirmed yesterday, eight (8) of the cases live on Oahu and one (1) case resides on Kauai. Thus far, no cases have required hospitalization. This ongoing investigation represents the largest number of mumps cases seen in Hawaii since 2001.The recently confirmed cases include children and adults at Central Middle School and the Job Corps Center in Waimanalo. The remaining cases are made up of individuals whose source of exposure is still under investigation. DOH is working closely with both the Department of Education and Job Corps Center to contact and notify those individuals who may have come into contact with confirmed cases during their infectious periods.

At this point in the investigation, the confirmed adult resident from Kauai cannot be linked to the clusters identified on Oahu. The case has no known travel history and investigation is ongoing to determine if this case is a new introduction or part of the larger Oahu outbreak.

“Mumps is a highly contagious disease and we expect to see more cases as this outbreak continues,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park. “We have alerted healthcare providers and ask them for vigilance in controlling the disease and its spread with careful, early diagnosis. If people think they may have mumps, seek medical attention immediately as this illness is most contagious in the several days before and after the onset of parotitis, which is the swelling of the salivary glands in front of the ears.”

Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. The classic mumps symptom of parotitis often results in a tender, swollen jaw. Other symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite. Some people with mumps have very mild or no symptoms.

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella, and prevents most cases of mumps. Two doses of the vaccine are 88 percent effective at protecting against mumps and one dose is 78 percent effective. Being fully vaccinated is important in helping to protect the public’s health across the state.

MMR vaccine is available at local pharmacies across the state. To locate a vaccinating pharmacy in your community, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/vaccines-immunizations/vaccine-locators/ or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

Additional information about mumps and the ongoing investigation can be found on the DOH website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/department-of-health-investigating-mumps-cases/.

Timeline:

  • May 16, 2017: DOH has confirmed three (3) additional cases of adults with mumps on Oahu.
  • May 15, 2017: DOH today confirmed nine (9) additional cases of mumps in Hawaii residents, bringing the total number of cases in 2017 to 39.  Of the cases confirmed today, eight (8) of the cases live on Oahu and one (1) case resides on Kauai.  This ongoing investigation represents the largest number of mumps cases seen in Hawaii since 2001.
  • May 12, 2017: DOH today confirmed three (3) additional cases of mumps in residents in East Oahu.  This brings the total number of cases in 2017 to 30. The Department is investigating a cluster of cases exposed at the Job Corps Center in Waimanalo.  Those who came in contact with the individuals during their infectious period are being notified.  The Department of Health is working closely with the Job Corps Center to monitor all program participants and staff to identify, control, or prevent additional cases.
  • May 11, 2017: DOH has confirmed four (4) additional cases of adults with mumps on Oahu.  As of May 11, there are a total of 27 cases reported for 2017.  Mumps is currently circulating not only in Hawaii, but also nationwide and in international areas.  The Centers For Disease Control’s (CDC) webpage at: (https://www.cdc.gov/mumps/outbreaks.html) shows many mumps outbreaks and clusters, some of which have been on-going since last year.  Nationwide from Jan. 1 to April 22, 2017, a total of 42 states and the District of Columbia reported mumps infections in 2,570 people.  DOH’s investigation of reported cases is continuing.
  • May 8, 2017: DOH continues to investigate an increasing number of cases of mumps infection statewide.  The number of confirmed cases of mumps for 2017 is 23.  The disease has been confirmed in children and adults, both vaccinated and unvaccinated.  As the numbers of cases investigated related to the initial two clusters increases, the identification of new isolated (i.e., no travel and no relation to those clusters) cases grows.  To date, none of the infected individuals have required hospitalization for mumps.
  • April 28, 2017: DOH has been investigating an increasing number of cases of mumps infection statewide. Since March 2017, DOH has become aware of two clusters of cases, together involving at least nine (9) individuals on Oahu, bringing the total number of confirmed cases statewide this year to fourteen (14).

CRACKDOWN – 17 People Arrested for Closed Area Violations at Kalalau

Seventeen people were arrested at the Kalalau Section of the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park, during a pair of law enforcement sweeps earlier this week. Officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) arrested people without valid permits for being in a closed area. They believe among the 17, were three people who’d been illegally residing in Kalalau Valley for long periods of time.

DOCARE Enforcement Chief Robert Farrell said, “We continue to hear about a lot of illegal activity at Kalalau through social media channels. Some of the behavior depicted on blogs and websites is brazen, clearly illegal, disrespectful to the Hawaiian culture, damaging to natural resources, and completely devoid of any appreciation for the wilderness character of the Napali Coast.”

DOCARE Kaua‘i Branch Chief Francis “Bully” Mission added, “The designated camping areas at Kalalau Beach are largely free of illegal camps, but there are still numbers of them up in the valley, where they tend to be remote and often pretty well hidden. It makes it challenging for our officers, but we remain committed to stopping illegal behavior in this wilderness park.”

Enforcement operations to the Napali Coast are expensive, complicated, and time-consuming not only for DOCARE, but also for the DLNR Division of State Parks. It conducts at least monthly air-lifts of accumulated rubbish and human waste. Both Chief Farrell and State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell noted that as Hawai‘i’s largest and most remote state park, funding has never been provided for having any full-time staff assigned to the Napali Coast.

Cottrell observed, “If there’s any silver lining to what law breakers are posting on social media, is that it’s caused significant public outrage. Our hope is to get new positions and funding authorized specifically dedicated to the Napali Coast to tackle this ongoing issue.”

DOCARE and State Parks are continuing to collaborate on future law enforcement and clean-up operations as resources permit. Officers continue to take a hard line against anyone contacted who can’t produce a permit. “No permit and you will be arrested and then have to appear in court,” Chief Farrell said.

Travel from the Kalalau Trailhead at Ke’e Beach does not require a permit to Hanakapiai Stream; the first two miles of the trail and another two miles, up valley after the stream crossing to Hanakapiai Falls. The nine miles of coastline trail beyond the stream crossing requires an overnight permit, obtainable from State Parks.

Malama the Napali Coast Media Clips from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Rescue, Rehab and Release for Kaua`i Pueo

After more than a month of rehabilitation a pueo (Hawaiian Short-Eared Owl) was released late yesterday on private ranch land in west Kaua‘i. The release site is near to where the young bird was rescued in late March and taken to the Save our Shearwaters (SOS) facility at the Kaua‘i Humane Society.

Dr. Andre Raine of the Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project (KESRP), spotted the bird struggling alongside the highway on March 22nd. Raine normally works with threatened and endangered seabirds, which given him a keen eye for all bird species.  His wife and daughter watched, as his son was given the honor of opening a cardboard carrier to let the rehabilitated pueo return to the wild.

Tracy Anderson of SOS said, “After Dr. Raine brought the bird to us, we treated her head and eye injuries and a fractured radius in her left wing. On April 11th she was flown to the Hawai‘i Wildlife Center on the Big Island so that she could continue her rehabilitation in their large flight aviary. She healed up nicely and was flying so the wildlife center sent her back to us yesterday for release.”  Anderson theorizes the young pueo was hit by a car. Owls are often attracted to roadsides by rats and mice, which in turn are attracted by the easy pickings of food scraps and rubbish discarded by people.  Anderson and others who work with endemic birds like the pueo remind people that the act of throwing trash on the ground not only impacts the environment visually but can have a direct and detrimental effect on wildlife like pueo.

Pueo are found on all of the main Hawaiian Islands and on Oah‘u they are listed by the State as endangered.  Specific population numbers are hard to come by. On Oah‘u, the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) is currently developing study parameters for conducting an island-wide survey of the owl. The pueo is one of the more famous of the various physical forms assumed by ʻaumākua (ancestor spirits) in Hawaiian culture.

On a country road, near Kalāheo, eight- year- old Callum Raine, under the watchful eye of Anderson slowly opens the box carrying the pueo and tips it up.  The bird looks around for a few seconds and then hops out onto the road.  It then spends a few minutes fluffing its wings and surveying its territory before flying off into the sunset. Prior to its release a metal band with a unique identifying number was put on one of its legs so it can be identified if it’s ever picked up again.

The owl’s fate is much more positive than that of a pueo rescued by an Oah‘u family on a North Shore road earlier this year.  A fracture in that bird’s wing was not going to heal properly, it would not be able to fly again, so it had to be put to sleep.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Addresses Kauaʻi Dairy, Labor Unions, Water Quality at Town Hall With 500+ Garden Isle Residents

More than 500 Kauaʻi residents packed into the Veterans Center in Līhue to hear from Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) at her sixth Town Hall on a statewide tour.

The audience shared concern over the difficulty in accessing quality affordable healthcare, expressed strong support for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s work to reinstate Glass-Steagall and reform Wall Street, and favored her bill (H.R.1227) to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, removing the conflict between federal and state law for places like Hawaiʻi that have approved medical marijuana dispensaries.

Local concerns that took center stage during the Q&A included protecting water and reef quality, the high cost of inter-island travel, the Jones Act, and “Right to Work” legislation. Kauaʻi residents also asked Rep. Tulsi Gabbard about the threat of North Korea’s nuclear escalation and Trump’s recent illegal attack on Syria, and they thanked her for introducing the Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R.608).

The final stop on Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s statewide Town Hall Tour is tonight on Maui. Second Congressional District residents are encouraged to RSVP at gabbard.house.gov/townhall or by calling the office at (808) 541-1986.

Tulsi’s Maui Town Hall:

Tonight, April 20th, 7:30 – 9:00 PM, Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater, 1 Cameron Way, Kahului, HI 96732

 

Concerns Grows for Young Monk Seal on Kaua`i

After wildlife biologists and veterinarians relocated a 10-month-old Hawaiian monk seal on March 30th from the Lihi Canal in Kapa‘a, to a beach on the island’s west side they’d hoped she would stay away from the canal.  Two days ago the seal, identified as RH92, returned to the canal along with an adult seal (RK13). Together they’ve been seen feeding on small fish in the manmade waterway along with discarded fish parts. The return of RH92 to Lihi is prompting stepped-up public awareness and outreach and potentially enforcement of littering laws for fishermen who dispose of fish parts in the water.

Jamie Thomton, the Kaua‘i Marine Mammal Response Program Coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) explained, “Any time you attract a wild animal into an area where human use is high, you’re increasing the risk of interaction between people and the seal.  You’re also exposing the seal to more risks, such as fishing nets that might be in the water, fishing hooks or strikes by boats.”  The endangered Hawaiian monk seal is protected by both federal and state laws, and injuring or killing a seal carries serious penalties.

The day after RH92 (now carrying a radio transmitter on her back so her movements can be tracked), returned to the canal she rested and basked in the sun on nearby Fuji beach.  As is standard practice with any of Kaua‘i’s population of an estimated 45 Hawaiian monk seals, volunteers posted signs asking people to give her wide berth. “We try to foster the co-existence with public education and outreach,” said Mimi Olry, the Kaua‘i Marine Mammal Response Field Coordinator with the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR).  She added, “We depend on people taking up a sense of doing what’s appropriate around these large marine mammals.  We’d like to see people respect them, give them their space, and not to create situations that put both seals and humans at risk.”

The disposal of litter, like fish parts, is not only illegal, they decompose in water that people fish and swim in. Officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) are increasing their visibility and patrols at Lihi. For now they want to be sure captains, crews, and fishers on boats that launch from the canal’s ramp know that disposing of any fish parts in the water is against the law. If one-on-one education doesn’t work DOCARE officers may begin writing citations for littering.

Monk seals frequently explore inland fresh waterways like streams and rivers. The attraction of discarded fish parts in these areas is particularly hazardous for young monk seals. Over the past two and a half years, two yearling seals were found dead in the Lihi Canal. It’s believed they drowned, possibly after getting entangled in fish nets. Neither seal had any sign of disease or obvious trauma.

“The last thing we want is to lose RH92, because she’s come back to Lihi, for the easy food of discarded fish guts, heads, and tails,” Thomton said.  He added, “We’re focusing outreach, education and possible enforcement efforts on boat fishing, as this is where the parts are coming from.”  The law requires that all fish parts be thrown into garbage cans provided at all State of Hawai‘i small boat harbors.

Hawaiian monk seals feed mostly on small reef fish, tako (octopus), and lobsters. Despite beliefs to the contrary, they do not feed on fish like ono, ahi, and mahi mahi.  Extensive scientific studies have shown what species of prey the monk seals prefer, and there’s no evidence that they feed on the large, fast moving pelagic fish that deep sea fishermen prefer.

Moreover, according to DAR’s Mimi Olry, “Top predators like seals and sharks help keep reef fish populations healthy, because just like wolves on the land, they pick out the sick and injured fish to feed on. Marine mammals are part of our ecosystem and the Hawaiian monk seal is a sentinel species, in that the health of its population can provide advance warnings about environmental conditions for people. We can and should co-exist with them”

There are no plans to move RH92 a second time and it’s hoped with increased outreach and education people will stop throwing fish scraps into the water and she’ll move on to safer locales.

New Study Supports the Rarity and Limited Range of a Kauai Endemic Bird

A new study provides the first rigorous population estimate of an enigmatic endangered bird species found only on Kauai, the Puaiohi or Small Kauai Thrush: 494 birds. Scientists have long believed that the species was very rare, but it had heretofore eluded a precise count due to its secretive demeanor and the rugged, inaccessible terrain it inhabits deep in Kauai’s Alakai Plateau.

The Puaiohi was listed as Endangered in 1967, when the Endangered Species Act became law, because of its rarity and single-island residency. One of the first goals mentioned in the plan for its recovery was to estimate the size of the population. Accomplishing this goal was hampered by a lack of resources, the species’ cryptic nature and its remote habitat.

“Population estimates are a cornerstone of species conservation efforts,” said Dr. Eben Paxton of the U.S. Geological Survey, a co-author of the study. “They are the benchmark against which managers monitor the success of their conservation efforts. If managers don’t know how many individuals exist to begin with, it is impossible to tell if a population is increasing or decreasing in response to conservation activities.”

Dr. Lisa Crampton, the lead author of the study, added: “We are thrilled that we finally have accomplished this objective.”

Once found island-wide, the Puaiohi’s range and population size has been reduced by a number of threats: habitat loss and degradation, non-native predators, and introduced mosquito-borne diseases, such as avian malaria. Previous research by Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project and its colleagues has suggested that Puaiohi are somewhat tolerant of avian malaria, and rat predation on nesting females is likely limiting the Puaiohi population’s ability to grow in size. The new study also suggests invasive weeds at lower elevation may restrict Puaiohi’s range.

Given these results, conservation efforts for this species will focus on controlling introduced predators and reversing habitat loss from degradation and invasive weeds.

“Three hundred self-resetting rodent traps have been deployed in the core of the Puaiohi’s range, thanks to funding from the successful crowdfunding campaign – #BirdsNotRats, American Bird Conservancy, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and US Fish and Wildlife Federation,” stated Dr. Crampton. She continued, “This study allowed us to estimate Puaiohi distribution in remote parts of the species’ range that are difficult to survey, and identify new hotspots of Puaiohi where we should implement these management activities, which will accelerate the species’ rate of recovery.”

KFBRP, USGS Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center, Diegmann Science Services, and University of Hawaii Hilo Hawaii Cooperative Studies Unit worked together develop a special methodology to survey this cryptic bird species in this difficult environment and to use both field-collected and remoted-sensed data to generate a population estimate. KFBRP is a collaboration of the State of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife and the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit at the University of Hawaii Manoa that is responsible for conducting research that aids the conservation of Kauai’s endangered forest birds.

Focus On Invading Parakeets During Hawaii Invasive Species Week

It’s another spectacular sunset near Spouting Horn on Kauai’s south side.  As people gather at the shoreline to catch a glimpse of the fabled green flash, their eyes turn inland for the green flash in the sky. This is the nightly invasion of rose-ringed parakeets. Their highly visible presence on the Garden Island provides a current and dramatic example of how a seemingly innocuous species, left unchecked and over time, can become a public health hazard, a real nuisance, and have serious impacts on the economy and the environment.

Kaua‘i County Council Member Derek Kawakami explained, “What turned out to be a novelty and something we’d kind of entertain ourselves with while we watched them roost in the evenings, turned into a nuisance once our farmers approached us and started saying, hey as cute as these birds are, they are very destructive to our lychee and longan crops. Increasingly we’ve been hearing more and more concerns from our farmers, our gardeners, from people who live in these neighborhoods; that unfortunately play host to these rose-ring parakeets. “  

They’re also known as the ring-necked parakeets. Kawakami is one of numerous government representatives fielding calls about what’s become the most visible invasive species on Kaua‘i. Rewind to circa 1968 and Bill Lucey of the Kaua‘i Invasive Species Committee shared what he learned. “We did research through the Bishop Museum and discovered there was a bed and breakfast somewhere in Lāwaʻi and they brought in some rose-ringed parakeets and clipped their primaries and had them sort of hanging out free by the front porch and around the B&B.  They got away from there and started establishing themselves at some point after 1968.” Figuring out what to do about this marauding, winged invader has become a top priority for Lucey, his team, and many others around the Garden Island. He explained, “Parakeets are what we call a slow invader actually, since they’ve been here for 50 years or so. They don’t really exhibit a fast explosion until they reach a critical mass. So for a number of years there were 50 or a few hundred and then over time they reached the point where there are a few thousand and then they’re all having off spring. At that point it becomes a very strong invasion and the invasion curve starts increasing rapidly.”

Current estimates put the rose-ringed population at around 5,000 birds. That’s plenty to cause big headaches for Kaua‘i’s agricultural seed companies, small independent farmers, backyard growers and condo owners. Learn their stories and see the damage this efficient winged army is causing environmentally and economically, and you begin to understand why so many people are so concerned and want strong measures for a counterattack.

Junior Extension Agent Kathryn Fiedler with the University of Hawai‘i College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) is one of the front-line experts now tracking the damage the parakeets are causing. She says she’s never seen such intense flocking and added, “It’s really astounding the damage they can cause. Rose-ringed parakeets are a small bird.  You wouldn’t think they could do too much. We’ve seen some homeowners have an entire tangerine tree striped in one day.  It’s quite extensive actually. The problem is they are birds and they bring in other diseases as well, so even if you see just a little bit of feeding it pretty much ruins the crop around it too. So they physically remove the fruit and also contaminate fruits and vegetables as well.”

Farmer Jerry Ornellas confirms that saying, “We definitely have the issue of food safety. These birds will land in the tops of the trees, they’ll poop and if any of their droppings gets onto the other fruit… even if it hasn’t been damaged by the birds, you have to discard that fruit. And if you ever get a food safety audit and they see birds in the trees, you’re in trouble. You’re not going to pass the audit.” In 2016 Ornellas said he lost 30 percent of his crop to the parakeet or about six thousand dollars. He also verifies that like any strong invasion force, the parakeets utilize advance scouts and choose lofty look- outs. “They don’t like to hang on the sides of the trees. They don’t like to be vulnerable apparently so they like to perch where they can see what’s going on. So they’ll take all the fruit off the top of the tree, which is the best fruit because it gets the best sunlight and sizes up pretty well.” Farmers like Ornellas are using netting to try and protect their crops. It works okay for low growing fruits and vegetables, but is expensive and tough to put on broad, towering trees like lychee.

Outside the CTAHR office in Lihue, farmer Gary Ueunten holds a hollow shell. It’s all that’s left of a once ripe lilikoi, another of the bird’s many favored pickings. On his farm in Lāwaʻi he explains, “The parakeet invasion started about four or five years ago. The first crop they started doing damage on was lychee and they devastated my lychee for one season when we had a lot of fruit. The next season I used wax bags from Japan until they figured out they could eat right through the bag so that didn’t work. Then I went to netting, the black netting, but that’s really cumbersome and hard to put on trees. And it also will catch other birds and that’s not desirable.” He says a flock of parakeets can wipe out an entire tree overnight.

Vast fields of seed corn on Kaua‘i’s west side are also being victimized by these voracious eaters. Large agricultural interests the Syngenta Corp. have been forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars to protect fields of corn from the birds. Syngenta’s site manager on Kaua‘i Robin Young, surveys long rows of corn now draped in huge, beige nets. It’s the company’s costly response to the invading parakeets.  Young remarked, “Oh it’s devastating. For example the field I’m standing in is about a 2 ½ acre field. I started noticing the parrots coming into the area about two weeks ago; at first maybe four or five of them. I watched them every evening. I wasn’t too concerned until about five days ago they came in by the flocks. There were probably about 500 out in this field I’d guesstimate.”

From the corn fields, to fruit farms, to condo complexes around Poʻipū many people have developed a quick and dramatic change of heart about the rose-ringed parakeet. No longer viewed as pretty, smart, and interesting birds to observe, the parakeets are now seen as public enemy number one in some corners of Kauai.

At the Prince Kuhio Condos near Spouting Horn, manager Matt Drake and homeowner’s association president Jack Barnard detail the horrible and unhealthy messes the parakeet flocks leave in their wake. Until they started using some tools of modern warfare, like drones and lasers, to try and scare dozens of birds out of Royal palms and other trees each night, they felt powerless. Drake explained, “Originally when they first showed up it was about four hours a day of just poop clean up on our property.

Since we’ve started shooting lasers at the tree tops we’ve whittled it down to two hours a day and flying a drone as a deterrent, we’re actually down quite a bit with that as well.” The complex had to cut down three trees around the swimming pool to keep the deck and the water from being covered in bird droppings. Barnard said, “It seems, if you’re successful in winning one battle they simply take flight and the fight elsewhere, using surprise to their advantage. One day there were no parakeets and the very next day our entire property was covered in droppings. It happened overnight and it was very overwhelming.”

Across the road at the Kuhio Shores Condominiums, manager Albert Fernandez joked, “If you were to rent a black convertible, the next day it’s going to be a white splattered convertible.”  The palm trees lining the property are favored roosts for the birds so Fernandez said he had the trees butchered to try and prevent landings. Most now have three or four short, vertical palm fronds remaining. Fernandez adds, “We had to do a lot of serious haircutting and then we had to butcher those palm trees. Boy, it doesn’t look good after we trimmed those. It’s just a small spike sticking up there and a lot of our tourists don’t really understand why our palm trees look like that. Normally they don’t look like that, but that’s the only solution. We had to temporarily cut down on the poop.”

Temporary measures are the best anyone can take now, while various agencies search for permanent solutions, hoping for broad governmental support to reduce the population on Kaua‘i, and have control measures in place before the rose-ringed parakeets expand their territory. Council member Kawakami said, “I can only speak for myself and some of my colleagues that we have recognized this is a problem and we’re looking toward a collaborative effort between county, state, and federal governments. It is going to be an on-going issue. We don’t want to see this thing turn into another coqui frog, where we could have addressed it early, before it turns into some kind of catastrophic event.”

It could be catastrophic on numerous levels if the birds fly higher and higher into the mountains and begin impacting native plants and watersheds. Thomas Kaiakapu, the Kaua‘i Branch Wildlife Manager for the DLNR Division of Wildlife and Forestry is one of the biologists monitoring the bird’s potential movement mauka. “Right now they’re in the lowland areas of Kaua‘i.  But if they start to move into the upland mountains, that’s a concern for us, because that’s where most of our native species thrive. Left unchecked and uncontrolled the parakeet population here could explode to more than 10,000 birds in the next five years,” Kaiakapu explained.

Numerous other places, particularly northern European countries, are also dealing with out-of-control parakeet populations. DLNR Chair Suzanne Case concluded, “If there’s a silver lining to this story we hope it raises awareness about the impacts of invasive species on Hawaii’s environment and economy. In the case of the rose-ringed parakeet, we’re seeing the detrimental effects right now and this will only get worse the more their numbers increase and they invade additional territory. We’re committed to working with all of our partners and the state legislature to address this issue.”

People across the state are recognizing Hawai‘i Invasive Species Week this week, with outstanding volunteers in the fight against invasive species to be recognized at a State Capitol ceremony in early March.

EPA Conducting Pesticide Poisoning Training in Hawaii

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced upcoming trainings for health care workers on how to recognize and treat pesticide poisonings. The classes will be conducted by the Migrant Clinicians Network, with co-sponsors Hawaii Department of Health, the Hawaii Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians and Hawaii Emergency Physicians Associated, with funding from the EPA.

“Quick and accurate identification of pesticide poisoning is important to provide immediate patient care,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “These workshops will provide health care workers with the tools they need in such critical situations.”

The trainings are accredited courses that will focus on key decision points in the diagnosis of pesticide exposures and will highlight the usefulness of the EPA publication, “Recognition and Management of Pesticide Poisoning, 6th edition”. Copies will be provided to all participants. Through interactive case studies, this training will illustrate effective recognition and treatment of patients who may have been exposed to pesticides.

“The Department of Health is grateful for the partnerships that came together to bring this specialized medical training to the healthcare communities on Kauai and Oahu,” said Dr. Virginia Pressler, Director of the Hawaii Department of Health. “We urge health care professionals to take advantage of this important learning opportunity, and expect to see more offered in this area.”

The classes will be held:

Kauai – March 6, at 9:30 am and 1 pm at the Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital, 4643 Waimea Canyon Drive, Waimea, HI, Conference Room AB. For more information and registration on the Kauai classes please contact Julie Sommers, (808) 338-9474 – jsommers@hhsc.org or Cheryl Tennberg, ctennberg@hhsc.org

Oahu – March 7, at 9:30 am at the AFFES Building, 919 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI, 5th floor Conference Room. For more information and registration on the Oahu class please contact Amy K. Liebman, (512) 579-4535, aliebman@migrantclinician.org or Fenix Grange, (808) 586-4248, fenix.grange@doh.hawaii.gov

Two Men Indicted for Attempted Murder of Kauai Police Officers – One Still at Large

Attorney General Doug Chin announced that a Kauai grand jury yesterday indicted Kalei Hiilei Goodwin and Kanbert A.T. Alapai for the attempted murder of three Kauai police officers while in the performance of their official duties. On February 9, 2017, Goodwin and Alapai, while driving separate vehicles during the same incident, allegedly attempted to run over Officers Brian Silva, James Rodriguez, and Kapena Wilson.

Kalei Goodwin, left, and Kanbert Alapai

Attorney General Doug Chin said, “Our police officers put themselves on the front line every day to keep us safe. If their lives are ever threatened, the law demands severe consequences.”

Attempted murder of a law enforcement officer is punishable by life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

In addition to the attempted murder charges, the grand jury indicted Goodwin for resisting an order to stop a motor vehicle. Goodwin and Alapai were also indicted for drug offenses.

Alapai is currently in custody and his bail has been set at $250,000. Goodwin is still at large. A warrant has been issued for Goodwin’s arrest with bail set at half a million dollars ($500,000.00). Goodwin is 31 years old, 5’3” tall, weighs approximately 175 pounds, and has brown eyes and black hair. A photograph of Goodwin is attached. Anyone with information that could help locate Goodwin should call the Kauai Police Department dispatch line at (808) 241-1711 or Kauai CrimeStoppers at (808) 246-8300.

Each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until he is found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

HDOA Quarantines Coffee Plants on Kauai That May Have Been Shipped from Oahu

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) is investigating the source of coffee plants found at a Home Depot on Kauai earlier this week. Coffee plants from islands infested with the coffee berry borer (CBB) are restricted from being transported to uninfested islands, such as Kauai. Hawaii Island, Oahu and Maui have established populations of CBB.

coffee berry borer (CBB)

Eight coffee plants were found at the Kauai store by HDOA Plant Pest Control specialists conducting pest surveillance on Monday. Since then, HDOA personnel have been working to determine where the plants came from and, at this point, it appears that the plants were transported from Oahu. Coffee berries on those plants have been examined by HDOA entomologists in Honolulu and no CBB have been found. Those plants have been quarantined and will be destroyed as a precaution. HDOA has asked the retailer to provide information on recent plant shipments. Also as a precaution, anyone who purchased coffee plants from that store is encouraged to contact HDOA on Kauai at (808) 241-7132 or the State’s toll-free Pest Hotline at 643-PEST (7378).

“The department is taking this matter very seriously and is working with the store and nurseries to determine the exact source of the coffee plants,” Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture, said while attending a conference on the Mainland.

One of the most devastating coffee pests, CBB was first detected in the state in Sept. 2010 in Kona and discovered in Ka`u in May 2011. In Dec. 2014, it was discovered on Oahu and was reported on Maui in Dec. 2016.

This small beetle bores into the coffee “cherry” to lay its eggs. The larvae feed on the coffee bean, reducing the yield and quality of the bean. Since its detection in Kona, Big Island coffee growers have developed methods to manage the pest, which include using an organic pesticide and field sanitation. Some farms with good management practices have been able to keep infestations down and minimizing yield loss to about five percent of the average coffee crop yield.

CBB is native to Central Africa and is also found in many coffee-growing regions of the world, including Central and South America. It is still unknown how CBB made its way to Hawaii Island and how it got to Oahu and Maui.

Hawaii has strict importation rules that require fumigation of all green coffee beans imported into the state to rid the beans of pathogens and insect pests. Coffee plants and plant parts are also restricted from being imported into Hawaii under Plant Quarantine rules.

After the discovery of CBB in Hawaii, HDOA issued a quarantine order that requires certain treatments and inspection by HDOA Plant Quarantine inspectors prior to shipping interisland. Inspectors will either attach a tag, label or stamp to indicate the shipment passed inspection requirements. For unroasted coffee beans, acceptable treatment protocols include fumigation, freezing and heat treatment.

For more information on CBB in Hawaii go to the HDOA CBB webpage at: http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/pi/ppc/cbbinfo/ and the UH-CTAHR webpage at: http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/site/CBB.aspx

Island Air Announces Flight Expansion Plans

476 flights each week between O‘ahu, Maui, Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i Island, compared to the 266 flights per week it currently offers

With the addition of new Q400 aircraft to its fleet, Island Air has begun increasing the number of interisland flights to its schedule.

Island Air’s first new Q400 aircraft, named Ola Kūpono, which means “safety in everything we do,” began service on January 12, 2017. Photo courtesy of island Air

Over the next four months, Island Air plans to phase in new regularly scheduled flights that will significantly increase its roundtrip service between Oʻahu and the neighbor islands. The number of daily roundtrip flights between Honolulu and Kahului will double to 16; between Honolulu and Kona will increase from six to 10; and the number of daily roundtrip flights between Honolulu and Līhu‘e will grow from six to eight. The airline will also add flights to accommodate high travel days (Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays) and spring break travel demands.

By the beginning of May, Island Air expects to offer up to 476 flights each week between O‘ahu, Maui, Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i Island, compared to the 266 flights per week it currently offers.

“The added flight service is in response to growing demand from our customers and travel partners and also reflects the improved operational efficiencies of the new Q400 aircraft that are being phased into our fleet” said David Uchiyama, president and chief executive officer of Island Air. “The entire Island Air team remains focused on enhancing the interisland travel experience for residents and visitors, which includes providing more convenient options to island hop, either for business or to enjoy a weekend getaway or visit.”

Island Air’s first new Q400 began service on January 12. The aircraft is 30 percent faster than conventional turboprops, resulting in shorter flight times, which enables Island Air to operate more flights each day. The airline plans to add up to seven new Q400s by the end of the year and will transition its existing fleet of five ATR-72 aircraft out of service.

Island Air currently offers eight roundtrips daily between Honolulu and Kahului (one flight was added on Feb. 1), with three additional roundtrips on Fridays and Sundays; six roundtrips daily between Honolulu and Kona, with one additional roundtrip on Fridays and Sundays; and six roundtrips daily between Honolulu and Līhu‘e.

Island Air’s flight schedule can be viewed at: https://www.islandair.com/flight-schedules

 

Zuckerberg Drops Lawsuits to Acquire Kauai Lands – Hawaii Rep Responds

State Representative Kaniela Ing (South Maui) issued the following statement on Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to drop lawsuits to acquire Kauai land parcels.

“I am humbled. Thousands of everyday people stood up and spoke out against one of the most influential billionaires, the best PR professionals, and the best attorneys in the world, and we won,” said Ing.

“To Mark Zuckerberg, thank you for doing the right thing and hearing our voices.  You now have an opportunity to set the bar for what being a good neighbor and an ally to indigenous peoples looks like.

“To everyone who helped share the story, mahalo and congratulations. This is a major victory for Native Hawaiians and everyday folks everywhere. Remember this feeling when you feel powerless.  We now know for sure that when thousands of people stand together, we win. Aloha prevailed.

“I look forward to having conversations with Mr. Zuckerberg and the families involved. I trust that we will find a fair solution that ensures Mr. Zuckerberg’s privacy and security, opens trail and beach access for everyone, and keeps Hawaiian lands in Hawaiian hands.

“Now that the Zuckerberg case has brought Quiet Title claims to the fore, I will continue to pursue legislation that will solve this issue once and for all.”

Hawaii Representative Issues Statement on Zuckerberg Reconsidering Lawsuits

“I am heartened to hear that Mark Zuckerberg is reconsidering his lawsuits against the indigenous kuleana land owners on Kauai,” said State Rep. Kaniela Ing.

“This shows the power everyday people wield when we band together to stand up for Native rights and our ‘aina. The people’s voice can and will overcome big money and celebrity–even against the fifth richest man in the world,” Ing said, referencing the videos and articles he shared on Facebook regarding the issue, which garnered over 170,000 views and thousands of shares each.

“Hawaii has always been a welcoming place, but over time, we have learned what exploitation can look like. In his eagerness to join our island community, Zuckerberg may have overlooked the diligence needed to dutifully enculturate and address an understandably skeptical community.

“I mahalo Mark Zuckerberg for his words of aloha and willingness to talk, but I will not stand down until he follows through with action.”

Ing said three steps Mr. Zuckerberg could take: “(1) officially drop the lawsuits; and, (2) donate to the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation to help protect native families from future Quiet Title actions. Then, (3) join us at the table to restart a positive dialog as mutual stewards of land and culture.”

“In the meantime, we should all maintain aloha and grant Mr. Zuckerberg a chance to meet his promise to talk story, explain his intentions, and make right with the community. We will be here watching and willing to share our mana’o.”

Hawaii Representative Issues Statement in Response to Zuckerberg Lawsuit

Rep. Kaniela Ing (D-South Maui) issued a statement in response to the controversy surrounding Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg’s 100-acre Kauai estate, and will be introducing legislation through his House Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources, and Hawaiian Affairs to address issues with “quiet title” and “Kuleana Lands” law.

“Zuckerberg is using the same legal loophole that sugar barons have historically exploited to scoop thousands of acres of Hawaiian lands. Zuckerberg’s actions may be legal and slightly more transparent, but it doesn’t make them right,” Ing said.

“We need to look at this issue through the eyes of the families affected. Here we have the world’s sixth richest individual, with a team of the world’s best lawyers, suing you, then asking you to make a deal. Obviously, no matter how expensive, you will lawyer up too.”

Ing claims that in these cases, defendants typically spend more on attorney fees than any payout they may receive. “So in the end, you have a mainland billionaire exploiting our legal system, and bullying his way through local residents, all to build his beach playground. This is not the intent of the law.”

Ing said that the State should take partial blame, because of outdated Kuleana Land title laws. A major problem with Kuleana Lands is that over generations of inheritances, land is divided into such tiny parcels that are legally worth nothing and not worth fighting over, if records can even be found. But Ing says these incremental losses adds up, and that of the original 23,000 acres designated Kuleana Lands, only a few thousand remain.

Ing claims there are better ways to address the dispute. “I was always taught that when disputes arise, to approach folks with aloha, talk story, and try to ho’oponopono. In Hawaii, you don’t initiate conversation by filing a lawsuit,” said Ing. “If Zuckerberg truly cared about Hawaiian culture, and these families, he would (1) let them hui together as a trust, rather than fighting them off one by one, then, (2) he would pay for and enter mediation to reach a fair deal without litigation.”

Ing’s bill, which is being drafted and will be submitted by next Wednesday, will require just that. “My proposal is fair and will help address this and hundreds of other quiet title cases that are weighted too heavily for the plaintiff. It goes well beyond sympathy for Native Hawaiians, because it could happen to anyone. We must stop mainland billionaires from stacking money to tilt Hawaii’s legal system against local residents.”