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Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Dissolves UPW Injuction; Maui Hospitals Transition May Proceed

Attorney General Doug Chin announced that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today issued an order dissolving an injunction that had temporarily barred certain transition activities relating to Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Communty Hospital. Based upon a settlement agreement reached on August 13, 2016 between Governor and the United Public Workers union and a joint request from both parties, the Court dismissed the underlying appeal brought by UPW as moot.

Attorney General Chin said, “During oral arguments before the 9th Circuit, the judges made clear to both UPW and the State that it preferred seeing the parties settle instead of the court making an all or nothing decision. Reaching compromise is not always easy. I thank Governor Ige and the union leadership for finding a forward path.”

Click to read

Click to read

In 2015, the Hawaii state legislature passed a law ending the Hawaii Health System Corporation’s delivery of health care services at the three Maui region facilities and transferring service delivery to a private operator. UPW had sued to stop the transition from taking place. Today’s order means that all transition activities between the State and a new Kaiser entity, Maui Health System, may resume at the three Maui region facilities.

Hawaii Election Results Online

Hawaii GifElection results will be posted upon the close of polls on Election Day. Links to the Summary Reports will be available at that time.

* The results files may be temporarily inaccessible while we are uploading new files. Please refresh your browser window (e.g. click the refresh button) to view new results.  Clicking on another year in the menu does not load new results when returning to 2016.

Reports (PDF format)

Hawaii State Reaches Agreement with United Public Workers Union to Proceed with Maui Hospitals Transition

Gov. David Ige and Dayton Nakanelua, state director of the United Public Workers (UPW), announced they have signed a settlement agreement that will resolve UPW’s lawsuit and class grievance against the state.

Click to read agreement

Click to read agreement

The union had sought to ensure that the collective bargaining agreement with the state was honored during the transition from state control to Maui Health System, a Kaiser Foundation Hospitals LLC (Kaiser). The transition can now move forward.

“I am pleased that we were able to work with UPW to ensure that state workers at the Maui healthcare facilities are treated fairly during the transition process. These employees are providing top-notch care for the community, and this agreement acknowledges their dedication to their patients. The settlement provides certainty to the people of Maui County that they will continue to have access to high quality health care,” said Gov. Ige.

“With this agreement, the governor has recognized and addressed the concerns of our members. He is honoring the process and the existing collective bargaining agreement,” said Mr. Nakanelua.

The state and UPW will jointly ask the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to lift its injunction and dismiss UPW’s lawsuit. Some key points of the agreement include:

  • The Maui Region hospitals will be transferred from Hawai‘i Health System Corporation management to Kaiser not earlier than November 6, 2016.
  • The Maui Region hospitals will be operated and managed exclusively by Kaiser.
  • UPW bargaining unit employees will work under Kaiser’s supervision and direction and still be covered by UPW collective bargaining agreements until those agreements expire on June 30, 2017.
  • Kaiser will offer to hire UPW employees for a period of six months starting July 1, 2017.

This agreement clears the way for the transition to Kaiser to proceed and residents of Maui County can feel secure that they will continue to have access to healthcare. While the transfer of the hospital management has been secured, some related issues remain. In particular, the Hawai‘i Government Employees’ Association (HGEA) did not join the UPW lawsuit. Instead, the union requested severance and retirement benefits for its employees through SB 2077, which was passed during the 2016 regular session. Gov. Ige vetoed the measure based upon legal and fiscal concerns and offered a compromise measure, but the legislature subsequently overrode his veto. This resulted in Act 1, Special Session 2016.

On Aug. 9, 2016, the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) filed a lawsuit against the state and Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation asserting that Act 1 will jeopardize the ERS’ federal tax-exempt status. This lawsuit will not affect the settlement agreement signed today. HGEA employees are not included in its provisions. HGEA’s severance and retirement benefits will depend on the outcome of the litigation, and/or the union could work with the state to reach an agreement in accordance with the collective bargaining law.

“I pledged to work out an agreement with UPW because we need to honor our commitments to the Maui Region hospital employees. I am hopeful that we can reach a similar agreement for employees in those facilities who are represented by HGEA,” said Ige.

EPA Enforces Ban on Cesspools on Big Island and Maui – Fines Levied

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced separate agreements with the County of Hawaii, the County of Maui, and the State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), to close illegal large capacity cesspools on Maui and the Big Island.

The County of Hawaii will pay a $105,000 fine for its two cesspools at the Hilo Drag Strip and one at the Hilo Trap & Skeet Range.

Hilo Trap and Skeet RangeThe County of Maui will pay a $33,000 fine for one cesspool at the Maui Raceway Track. The DLNR will pay a $50,000 fine for its cesspools at Wainapanapa State Park on Maui and will close or convert smaller cesspools at seven state park and recreational areas on Maui, Oahu, and the Big Island.

Wainapanapa State Park

Wainapanapa State Park

“To make Hawaii’s coastal waters safe for both residents and visitors, we must stop the flow of pollutants and pathogens from large capacity cesspools,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Public facilities have the same obligations as private ones to close them.”

EPA found continued use of the illegal cesspools despite a 2005 ban under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act’s Underground Injection Control program. Subsequent to the Agency’s investigations, the Hawaii County has closed the three illegal cesspools at the drag strip and skeet range, with plans to replace them with approved individual wastewater systems at each location. Maui County has closed the illegal cesspool at the raceway. DLNR closed the six illegal cesspools that served the park’s 12 rental cabins at the Waianapanapa State Park near Hana and converted them to approved septic systems.

Cesspools collect and discharge untreated raw sewage into the ground, where disease-causing pathogens and harmful chemicals can contaminate groundwater, streams and the ocean. They are used more widely in Hawaii than any other state. Throughout Hawaii, over 3,000 large capacity cesspools have been closed since the 2005 ban, many through voluntary compliance. The EPA regulations do not apply to single-family homes connected to their own individual cesspools.

All three cases are each subject to a 30-day public comment period. For more information on the cases please visit:

https://www.epa.gov/region9/enforcement/pubnotices/archive/

https://www.epa.gov/uic/hawaii-cesspools-administrative-orders For more information on the large capacity cesspool ban and definition of a large capacity cesspool, please visit: http://www2.epa.gov/uic/cesspools-hawaii

Tropical Storm Howard Turns South

At 800 PM PDT (0300 UTC), the center of Tropical Storm Howard was located near latitude 17.7 North, longitude 126.4 West.

TS Howard

Howard is moving toward the west-northwest near 14 mph (22 km/h), and this general motion with a slight increase in forward speed is forecast during the next couple of days.

Maximum sustained winds remain near 50 mph (85 km/h) with higher gusts.  Some additional strengthening is possible during the next 12 hours or so, but weakening should commence by Tuesday night.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles (110 km) from the center.

The estimated minimum central pressure is 999 mb (29.50 inches).

FORECAST DISCUSSION:

Visible imagery and a 01/2038 UTC AMSR2 microwave pass show that Howard’s center of circulation has become exposed to the west of the cloud canopy.  Additionally, the entire western half of the cyclone has become devoid of deep convective banding.  It appears that modest westerly shear is impinging on the storm and undercutting the diffluent flow aloft.  A blend of the Final-T numbers from both TAFB and SAB yields an initial intensity of 45 kt for this advisory.  Some additional strengthening is forecast during the next 12 hours while Howard remains over SSTs greater than 26C.

By the 24 hour period, the cyclone is expected to move over cooler sub-24 deg C water. Cooler SSTs and increasing southwesterly shear should induce steady weakening, resulting in Howard degenerating into a post-tropical cyclone in 48 hours, and a remnant low by day 3.

After that time, the large-scale models show the remnant low degenerating into a trough of low pressure.  The intensity forecast is a little above the previous forecast, but is lower than the IVCN intensity consensus.

Satellite position estimates suggest that Howard is moving toward the west-northwest, or 295 degrees, at about 12 kt.  Howard is expected to move in a general west-northwestward motion during the next 72 hours along the southern periphery of a subtropical ridge located to the north of the cyclone.  Through the remainder of the period, the cyclone is forecast to become a shallow remnant low and turn toward the west following the low-level easterly tradewind flow.  The official NHC forecast is quite similar to the previous one, and is hedged toward the TVCN multi-model consensus.

 

Tropical Storm Darby Update: Tropical Storm Strength Through the Weekend

High clouds have been streaming toward the northeast which indicates the cyclone is beginning to feel an approaching upper level trough. One of the later passes through Darby by the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron’s WC-130J helped confirm the center position of the system toward the end of the morning mission though the aircraft had to fly lower to find it. Based on the morning recon mission and the maintenance of deep convection, the initial intensity has been held at 50 kt. Note that this is higher than the subjective Dvorak estimates of 45 kt from PHFO and SAB, and 30 kt from JTWC. The next aircraft mission into Darby is scheduled for this evening.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Darby is estimated to be moving at 280/11 kt to the south of a ridge. This ridge is forecast to weaken due to a low pressure system digging southward to the north of cyclone. This weakness is expected to decrease Darby’s forward motion over the next day, and increase the amount of vertical shear affecting the system this weekend.

The trusted dynamical models have remained largely consistent today, bringing Darby over the Big Island on Saturday. Thus, the current forecast has been nudged southward closer to the dynamical consensus with a landfall on the Big Island, followed by a path over Maui County and near Oahu. The latter part of this path assumes that Darby survives its impact on the Big Island which is not a certainty.

ProbabilityThe intensity forecast rationale remains the same since the last package. The main factors affecting the intensity forecast include marginal sea surface temperatures, the amount and timing of vertical wind shear, and the effects of any potential interactions with the Hawaiian Islands.

Sea surface temperatures will remain marginal near 26.5C over the next couple of days but vertical shear is expected to increase as the previously mentioned upper level trough digs farther south. This shear increase is not expected to become strong until later this weekend.

The forecast calls for only slow weakening with Darby maintaining tropical storm strength through the weekend. This is consistent with the previous package but slightly lower than the intensity consensus. Interactions with the Big Island may cause significant disruptions to Darby so the intensity forecast confidence is not high at this time.

Tropical Storm Darby Update – Direct Impact Possible on Big Island and Maui

The first Air Force Reserve 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron mission into Darby found maximum SFMR winds of just over 50 knots but the initial passes had difficulty determining the location of the low level center. Based on the recon data thus far, the tropical storm force radius was expanded slightly in the northern semicircle and Darby has been held at 50 kt for this advisory package.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Darby is estimated to be moving at 270/10 kt to the south of a ridge. This ridge is forecast to weaken due to a low pressure system digging southward to the north of Darby. This is expected to decrease the forward motion over the next day, and increase the amount of vertical shear on the tropical cyclone this weekend. The trusted objective aids are consistent with this scenario but have shifted southward slightly with some solutions indicating landfall over the Big Island. As a result, the current forecast has been shifted southward a bit and is between the dynamical consensus and the previous forecast. Given current guidance trends, a direct impact on the Big Island and Maui is a distinct possibility this weekend.

Flash Flood Watch Issued for Big Island and Maui

All eyes are on Tropical Storm Darby, and the forecast details are highly dependent on its eventual track and intensity as it approaches the islands. Unfortunately, a track more on left side of the Central Pacific Hurricane Center (CPHC) forecast cone would result in a much greater threat of damaging winds and intense rainfall, and possibly to a much larger part of the state.

Darby Satellite 721At this point, we cannot rule that out and we encourage people to get prepared for that very significant possibility. Tropical cyclone related headlines appear likely to be issued today.

Stay tuned to the latest from CPHC because adjustments are likely to the forecast as we go along. The peripheral moisture from Darby will start to bring some showers to windward Big Island tonight and increase on Friday. More significant bands of heavy showers and squalls associated with Darby are likely to start Friday night, then increase in intensity and frequency as the tropical storm gets closer.

Thus, we have issued a Flash Flood Watch that includes Maui and the Big Island for now. It is very possible we may have to expand the watch to include more areas if the CPHC track continues to shift westward. Until Darby gets close, we will see good conditions for getting ready, with typical trade wind weather with passing mainly windward and mauka showers, especially mornings and nights. After Darby passes, moist, humid southeast flow will continue during the first half of next week.

Based on the latest data from Wavewatch III, we have upgraded the High Surf Advisory to a High Surf Warning for the E facing shores of Maui and the Big Island starting at 6 am Friday. Wavewatch III shows longer period swell reaching 13 feet/13 seconds, so we went with surf heights of 12-20 feet for now.

Also raised the east- shore heights in the remaining advisory areas, to 8 to 12 feet. Adjustments may be needed to any of these details based on what Darby eventually does. Currently the High Surf Advisory for the other islands only goes through 6 am Saturday, but it may need to be expanded or extended as we get a better handle on what Darby will do. Winds and seas directly associated with Darby are likely to start increasing over the southeast offshore waters starting tonight, then spreading westward toward the state on Friday.

Winds and seas will begin increasing over the Big Island southeast waters on Friday, and continue spreading through the coastal waters zones near the Big Island and Maui after that. Although the Small Craft Advisory currently only goes through 6 pm Friday, we will likely be replacing that with tropical cyclone headlines today.

Tropical Storm WATCH Issued for Hawaii and Maui Counties

A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for Hawaii County and Maui County.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

A Tropical Storm watch is in effect for:

  • Hawaii County
  • Maui County, including the islands of Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe

A Tropical Storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area within 48 hours.

Hawaii Legislature Overrides Governor’s Veto of SB 2077

The State House and Senate today voted to override Gov. David Ige’s veto of SB 2077 to preserve the management transfer of three state run Maui hospitals to Kaiser Permanente.

The bill, now a state law, authorizes severance benefits or early retirement incentives for employees who would be directly affected by the impending privatization of state hospital operations on Maui and Lanai.

Last year state lawmakers authorized the privatization of Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital & Clinic and Lanai Community Hospital, and the state reached an agreement in January, 2016 to have Kaiser Permanente operate all three.

Lawmakers were concerned that if they did not override the veto, the transfer would be in jeopardy along with the health and safety of Maui residents and visitors.

The hospital transfer would be the largest privatization of public facilities in state history, and Gov. Ige has predicted it will save the state $260 million in hospital subsidies over the next decade.

Veto Votes

The House with 43 votes… voted to override the Governors veto of SB2077. It is now law. Photo via Senator Kahele Facebook page.

U.S. Senate Passes Hirono Resolution Honoring 100th Anniversary of Hawaii’s National Parks

The United States Senate passed a resolution authored by Senator Mazie K. Hirono honoring the 100th anniversaries of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii Island and Haleakala National Park on Maui. Senator Hirono’s resolution recognizes August 1 as “Hawaii Volcanoes and Haleakala National Parks Day.”

Volcano at night

“For the last century, residents of Hawaii, the United States, and the world have visited Haleakala National Park and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and gained a greater appreciation for the natural environment, the history of Hawaii, and Native Hawaiian culture,” said Senator Hirono. “I thank my colleagues for joining me in this effort, and encourage as many people as possible from across the nation to come to Hawaii to visit these national treasures.”

Senator Hirono’s resolution recognizes the economic, scientific, and cultural value of Hawaii’s national parks. In 2015, visitors to Haleakala National Park spent over $76 million in surrounding communities, supporting nearly 1,000 jobs. Visitors to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park spent over $151 million in areas around the park, and supported nearly 2,000 local jobs.

Hawaii House and Senate Meet in Special Session to Amend Maui Hospital Workers Bill

The House and Senate met today in special session following Gov. David Ige’s veto of SB2077.

Click to see bill

Click to see bill

The bill provides state benefits to workers facing position abolishment, reduction-in-forces or workforce restructuring as the state moves forward with an agreement to have Kaiser Permanente assume control of operations at Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital.

Legislative leaders said they will not move to override the governor’s veto, but will work with him to fashion a bill that will protect the health, safety and welfare of Maui residents and ensure a smooth transition from public to private management of Maui hospitals.

The legislature will be in recess until Monday morning when it will reconvene at 11 a.m. to take up amendments to the bill. The recess will also give time for the governor to negotiate a settlement with the UPW in its lawsuit objecting to the transition.

A final vote on the amended bill is expected on Wednesday, July 20.

Live Snake Captured on Maui Coffee Farm

A live snake was captured by a worker on a Maui coffee farm on Friday afternoon, July 1, 2016. The snake was reported to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture on Maui and a plant quarantine inspector picked up the snake, which was later identified as a non-venomous ball python.

Ball Python Found on Maui Coffee Farm

Ball Python Found on Maui Coffee Farm

The snake measured about three to four feet long and was euthanized on Maui due to its condition. It is not known how the snake got to the farm, which is located in Kaanapali.

Ball pythons are non-venomous and are common in the pet trade on the mainland. They are native to Western and West-Central Africa and are related to boas, which are also constrictors that subdue its prey by coiling around and suffocating it. Its diet usually consists of small mammals and birds. Ball pythons may grow up to six-feet long.

Snakes have no natural predators in Hawaii and pose a serious threat to Hawaii’s environment. Many species also prey on birds and their eggs, increasing the threat to endangered native birds. Large snakes can also be a danger to the public and small pets.

Individuals who see or know of illegal animals in Hawaii are encouraged to contact the State’s toll-free PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378).

Illegal Dirt Bike Racing Results in 46 Citations – 10 Impounds

46 criminal citations were written and 10 off-road motorcycles were impounded as evidence after officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) observed illegal dirt biking in Maui’s Kula Forest Reserve on Sunday, July 3, 2016.

DLNR

Officers cited one juvenile and nine adults and they each face multiple charges including prohibited motorized vehicle operation in a non-designated area; prohibited operation of non-four wheel drive vehicle; and several counts of vehicle and transportation prohibitions for unlicensed, untaxed and no plates. The dirt bikers allegedly accessed the forest reserve by trespassing through private property.

Acting DOCARE Enforcement Chief Jason Redulla said, “Our Maui officers have been receiving on-going complaints from hikers, hunters, and mountain bikers about illegal motorcycle riding on trails designated for foot or mountain bike traffic only.  Hikers report having to jump off the trail due to a motorcyclist operating illegally.  Areas of cultural significance are being damaged and natural resources are being negatively impacted.” The Kula Forest Service on the slopes of Mt. Haleakala contains designated hunting areas, numerous recreational hiking and mountain bike trails, as well as Polipoli State Park.

Redulla commented, “Some social media postings are painting DOCARE’s actions in a negative light and the dirt bikers as victims.  Our officers are sworn to uphold the laws, rules and regulations, designed to protect public safety and the natural and cultural resources of Hawaii.  To suggest, their actions, based on public complaints, is somehow wrong, is quite simply, not accurate.” 

Flags to Fly at Half-Staff in honor of Former Mayor and House Speaker Elmer Cravalho

As a mark of respect for the late former Maui County Mayor Elmer Cravalho, Gov. David Ige has ordered that the flags of the United States and State of Hawai‘i shall be flown at half-staff at all state offices and agencies, as well as the Hawai‘i National Guard, from sunrise to sunset on Wednesday, July 6, 2016.

half flag

“Former Speaker Cravalho was a trailblazer who helped shaped the Democratic Party and the island of Maui. He will be remembered for his many years in public service, especially his work to support the underprivileged on the Valley Isle,” said Gov. David Ige.

Cravalho began his political career in 1955 when he was elected to the Territorial House of Representatives. It was Cravalho who relayed the message from then Territorial Delegate John Burns in Washington, D.C., to a cramped House of Representatives at I’olani Palace that the U.S. Congress had approved statehood for Hawai‘i. Cravalho served as speaker of the Territorial and State House from 1959-1967.

He was elected as Maui’s first mayor in 1969 under a new charter provision that established the current political system, and served until 1979 when he suddenly left office after reelection to a second term. As mayor, Cravalho is credited with promoting the development of South Maui.

Born in Paia, Maui, Cravalho was one of seven children.

Soldiers In The Battle Against Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death; Passion for Hawaii Forests Prompts Participation

Dozens of scientists, foresters, surveyors, researchers, and educators are actively involved in the fight to try and stop the spread of Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death. The fungal disease has decimated tens of thousands of acres of native ‘ōhi‘a on the Big Island. A virtual army of specialists from a wide array of federal, state, county, and non-profit organizations are engaged in the fight to find a treatment and simultaneously to stop it in its tracks. That’s where education and outreach come in.

ohia death

Anya Tagawa and Jeff Bagshaw of the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife’s (DOFAW)    Natural Area Reserve (NAR) program are two of the soldiers on the frontline of spreading awareness about Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death.  They’ve each created signs that hunters, hikers,     mountain bikers and other people recreating on state public lands will soon see.  DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said,  “It is critical that every person who goes into the woods or forest anywhere in Hawaii, takes steps to prevent this disease from spreading. Anya and Jeff’s work along with a team of other outreach experts, is vitally important in getting kama‘āina and visitors alike to be certain they don’t inadvertently track the fungus from place to place.”

Their individual signs are different in appearance, but contain the same basic message. Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death kills one of the most important native trees quickly and in wide swaths.  Failing to follow the simple recommendations outlined on both signs could make you responsible for spreading this disease inter-island and intra-island.

Tagawa’s passion is borne of a life spent in the forest. She comments, “My life has always been intertwined with ‘ōhi‘a, with our native forests. I grew up hiking, exploring, and being captivated by our forests. I continue to learn about their unparalleled uniqueness and feel an intimate    connection with these special places. Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death threatens this way of life. It is imperative that we do all what we can to ensure ‘ōhi‘a is present for our future generations to experience, engage, and form a relationship with. It is critical for the continued persistence of the countless unique plants and animals that rely on ‘ōhi’a.”

Bagshaw is the outreach coordinator at the Ahihi-Kina‘u NAR on Maui’s south shore. The nearest wild ‘ōhi’a is dozens of miles away yet he designed the sign for the Na Ala Hele Trails Access system, because he, like his colleagues, is deeply concerned about the fate of Hawai‘i’s ‘ōhi’a forests.

He said, “We hope hikers and all forest users will start to be conscious  wherever they go, even if there’s ‘ōhi’a there or not. We’d like them to realize, that they could be taking something into the forest that affects our native ecosystems. ‘Ōhi’a are the backbone of our native rainforest; they feed the honeycreepers, they protect the watershed.  I can’t imagine a Hawaiian rainforest without ‘ōhi’a.”

Recently, Bagshaw, his staff, and volunteers conducted awareness surveys with visitors to the Ahihi-Kina‘u NAR.  They’ve found very few people have any knowledge about ōhi’a or Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death.  They’re heartened though, by people’s willingness to adopt the preventative measures outlined on each of the trail signs.

Tagawa’s signs will eventually be at every DOFAW trailhead on the Big Island: more than 50 in all. On Maui, Bagshaw’s signs are being placed at all Na Ala Hele trailheads.

Soldiers in the Fight Against Rapid Ohia Death- Video News Release from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Shark Study Helps Explain Higher Incidence of Encounters Off Maui

A spike in shark bites off Maui in 2012 and 2013 prompted the Dept. of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), with additional support and funding from the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS), to commission a two-year-long study of shark spatial behavior on Maui.  The research was conducted by a team from the University of Hawaii’s Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB).

shark bites in maui

Dr. Carl Meyer, principle investigator for the study, explained that the Maui Nui complex, consisting of Maui, Molokai, Lanai, and Kahoolawe, has more preferred tiger shark habitat than all other main Hawaiian Islands combined.  According to Dr. Meyer, “Tiger sharks captured around Maui spend most of their time on the extensive Maui Nui insular shelf, which is also an attractive habitat for tiger sharks arriving from elsewhere in Hawaii.  The insular shelf extends offshore from the shoreline to depths of 200 meters (600 feet), and is home to a wide variety of tiger shark prey.”

Although tiger shark movement patterns revealed by the latest study are generally similar to those seen in previous studies, the larger area of shelf habitat around Maui may be able to support more tiger sharks than other main Hawaiian Islands.  In addition, the most frequently-visited areas by tiger sharks around Maui include waters adjacent to popular ocean recreation sites.

Meyer noted “This combination of factors may explain why Maui has had more shark bites than other Main Hawaiian Islands, although we cannot completely rule out a higher number of ocean recreation activities on Maui as the primary cause of these differences.  However, despite the routine presence of large tiger sharks in waters off our beaches, the risk of being bitten remains extremely small, suggesting tiger sharks generally avoid interactions with people.”

Dr. Bruce Anderson, administrator for DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), said, “This study provided us with important new insights into tiger shark movement behavior around Maui, and helps answer some questions about why that island has led the state recently in shark bites.  We agree with the study’s recommendation that the best approach to reducing numbers of these incidents is to raise public awareness of what people can do to reduce their risk of being bitten.  This has been our focus for a long time.  People who enter the ocean have to understand and appreciate that it is essentially a wilderness experience.  It’s the shark’s house, not ours.

DAR will continue to work with other agencies to expand outreach regarding hazards in the ocean, such as drownings, to include shark safety information so people can make well-informed, fact-based decisions.”

As for the 2012-2014 spike in shark bites around Maui, Meyer said the reasons remain unclear.  He noted, “2015 saw only one unprovoked shark bite off Maui.  Shark behavior didn’t change year to year, and there was no shift in human behavior.  These spikes occur all over the world, and are most likely due to chance.”

Citing previous studies, the HIMB team also noted that historical shark culling in Hawaii neither eliminated nor demonstrably reduced shark bite incidents.  Tiger sharks tracked around Maui exhibit a broad spectrum of movement patterns ranging from somewhat resident to highly transient. This ensures a constant turnover of sharks along coastal locations.  Sharks removed by culling are quickly replaced by new ones locally and from distant locations.

Maui Shark Report-Media Clips from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

PacIOOS makes tiger shark tracks available online and provides funding for ongoing and future tagging efforts. Melissa Iwamoto, Director of PacIOOS explained, “We are pleased to be a partner in this important effort by offering an online platform where you can view the tiger sharks tracks. Providing ocean users, agencies, residents and visitors with relevant ocean data is our priority. While the tracks do not serve as a warning or real-time monitoring system, they are a great way to raise awareness about the ocean environment and to inform long-term decision-making.”

All of the partners agree that the more information people have, the better decisions they can make when entering the ocean.

Hawaii Tiger Shark Tracking Report: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar/files/2016/05/Maui_tiger_shark_spatial_dynamics_final.pdf

Hawaii Tiger Shark Tracking website: http://pacioos.org/projects/sharks

Hawaii Sharks website: www.hawaiisharks.org

Zika Virus Case Suspected on Maui

The Maui County District Health Office and the County of Maui jointly announced today a suspected case of Zika virus brought to the island by a resident who became ill while traveling in Latin America and upon return to Maui in February.

While initial lab tests were not conclusive, results did warrant further testing and pointed to a high probability of Zika, which carries other, more serious impacts than Dengue Fever.

Both Dengue Fever and Zika are spread when a sick person gets bit by a mosquito, which later bites another person. Evidence suggests that Zika can also be transmitted through sexual contact if a man has been infected. The best way to prevent both Dengue and Zika is to take mosquito control measures, and to avoid getting bitten. Some who carry Zika do not show symptoms, and in others, illness may last from several days to over a week. There is currently no cure for either virus.

“Because the lab results thus far point to the high probability of Zika, we are taking this very seriously,” said Dr. Lorrin Pang, Maui County District Health Officer. “We need the public’s help in preventing the spread of whichever virus caused the illness so that we don’t get locally transmitted cases. The best way to do this is to eliminate mosquito breeding sites and make sure people avoid getting mosquito bites.”

Additionally, Department of Health and County of Maui staff and volunteers will be conducting site visits in various areas along the North Shore of Maui this weekend to assess problem areas for mosquito breeding and inform residents of the need to take precautions against mosquito-borne viruses.

“If you receive a flyer or letter from the Department of Health, please be sure to read the information carefully, as this public health issue affects us all,” said Mayor Alan Arakawa. “This is the time for our community to step up efforts to ‘fight the bite,’ by seeing a doctor if you have even mild symptoms, especially if you have traveled to parts of the world where there are outbreaks of these viruses.”

The public is advised that anyone who has traveled outside the country and has mild to severe symptoms such as fever, joint pain, rash or pink eye to see their physician. All residents and visitors should avoid getting mosquito bites by using repellent and wearing light-colored clothing with long sleeves, pants, shoes and socks when outdoors. Residents should fix broken window and door screens at home, and get rid of standing water in the yard. Old tires, buckets, toys and plants, especially bromeliads, can become breeding sites for mosquitos. A mixture of soapy water (1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap to 16 ounces of water in a spray bottle) can be sprayed on backyard plants to control mosquito larvae.

For more tips on how to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne viruses, visit www.mauiready.org.

Hawaii Department of Health Cites Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company for Burn Permit Violations

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) Clean Air Branch has issued a Notice and Finding of Violation and Order against Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company (HC&S).

PrintHC&S operates a sugar cane refinery and plantation at Puunene on Maui, and was cited for agricultural burning permit violations that occurred in May, June and July of 2015.

The violations were self-reported and after a review of the reports a penalty of $8,300 was issued by DOH and paid by HC&S. Copies of the Notice of Violation are posted at http://health.hawaii.gov/cab/.

The DOH Clean Air Branch monitors air quality and regulates businesses that release pollutants into the air. The Branch reviews and approves air permits, evaluates and enforces state and federal air standards, conducts inspections, and investigates reported incidents related to outdoor air quality. Through the air permit process, the Branch ensures companies comply with state and federal emission standards to minimize air pollution impacts on the public.

BREAKING NEWS – Dengue Fever Case Reported on Maui

The Hawaii State Department of Health sent out a memo on January 29th to Maui residents notifying them that a Dengue Fever case has been confirmed on the Island of Maui.
Dengue Fever Case in MauiAs of today on the Big Island of Hawaii… we currently have 244 confirmed cases of Dengue Fever with no end in site.