Commentary: Hawaii Speaker Endorses Jones Act Reform

Commentary from the Grassroots Institute of Hawaii:

The effort to improve Hawaii’s economy has taken an important step forward with the introduction of a series of resolutions supporting a limited exemption to the US-build requirement of the Jones Act. House Speaker Joseph Souki (D) was among the group who introduced HR 113 and HCR 153, which note that the Act, “disproportionately imposes an economic burden on and adversely affects Hawaii.” The resolution goes on to carve out the specifics of the limited exemption, taking care to refute the claim that the Jones Act is necessary to national defense or effective in protecting the US shipbuilding industry.

“This is a great day for both political cooperation and our economy,” stated Dr. Keli’i Akina, President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. “The Grassroot Institute has long supported Jones Act reform, not only out of principle–for such protectionist legislation reduces our competitiveness and infringes on our liberty–but also out of simple compassion for Hawaii’s citizens and businesses. In cooperation with countless others, including Michael Hansen (President of the Hawaii Shippers Council and an advisor to Grassroot institute), Grassroot has worked hard to educate both legislators and the public on the need for Jones Act reform. The Jones Act is a burden on everyone who lives and works in Hawaii, acting as an invisible tax on every good that comes to our shores. A limited exemption, such as that envisioned by these resolutions, is a tremendous and positive step.”

Dr. Akina continued: “Moreover, we are happy to see that this is an issue that has gained bipartisan support. Not only was Speaker Souki one of the primary introducers, but he was joined by Reps. Ward (R), Brower (D), Cachola (D), Creagan (D), Evans (D) and Kobayashi (D). We also thank Senator Slom (R) for introducing SR 45 and SCR 93, the Senate versions. There should be no question of partisanship when it comes to improving the economy of our state, making it a better and more profitable place to do business and reducing the cost of living for our citizens. It is gratifying to see that this common sense issue is being treated with the gravity it deserves.”

Dead Dolphin Found Wrapped in Netting by West Hawaii Marine Mammal Rescue Network

Earlier today, a friend posted a disturbing picture of a dead dolphin that was wrapped up in some netting off the Kona Coast of Hawaii.

Photo courtesy of Julie Steelman

Photo courtesy of Julie Steelman

I had to inquire more about this incident and this is what was told to me about the dead dolphin they encountered:

It was a very sad encounter.  To say the least.  I’m part of the West Hawaii Marine Mammal Rescue Network, which is a NOAA group, but was out for a fun day on the water with friends.

At approximately 9:10am, I saw a spinner dolphin floating upside down with his pecs sticking out of the water.

Photo Courtesy of Julie Steelman

Photo Courtesy of Julie Steelman

I instantly knew something was amiss.  We drove closer and could clearly see a fishing net wrapped around his Rostrum, his neck, draped down his righthand side and then wrapped around his tail.  He was caught in the net from nose to tail and didn’t have a chance.  In my opinion, he drowned.

He was a very healthy looking male spinner dolphin.  He didn’t have any fresh cookie-cutter shark bites on him.  He was a little over 5′ long and was beautiful.  He was already dead when we found him.

Photo courtesy of Julie Steelman

Photo courtesy of Julie Steelman

We found him right near the large pipe at OTEC/NELHA, just north of Garden Eel Cove.  I could see at least 10 “swim with dolphin” boats at garden eel cove.  It was unclear if the dolphin had just surfaced and/or the dolphin swimming boats had or hadn’t seen him.

We were headed up to the Manta cleaning station to do some free-diving and then out for a whale watch.

I was instantly sickened and went into action letting NOAA know there was an entangled deceased dolphin.  He was fresh and hadn’t been there very long at all.

I felt enraged seeing this beautiful ocean animal just being himself and getting entangled in something some human put in the water.  It was so avoidable and unnecessary.  I always remind myself of Ram Das’s quote…”hold a space of infinite unbearable compassion”.  I feel so much compassion for the animals, who are completely innocent, and we STILL think the ocean is a grand dumping ground.  That the debris and garbage we put in it doesn’t hurt anything.  I feel like the animals don’t have a voice and we could certainly be more mindful of keeping their habitat clean.

Photo courtesy of Julie Steelman

Photo courtesy of Julie Steelman

So, my insides were a cocktail of compassion, sadness and outright anger.

With NOAA”s permission, we later transported the dolphin to the harbor.  We iced him and he was picked up and flown to Oahu.  He will be examined and used for research.  The only good that comes out of this is they get a very fresh animal to study.

Julie Steelman

Hilo’s Pi‘ihonua Gym Closing for Renovations

The Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation will be closing Pi‘ihonua Gymnasium starting Monday, March 17, so it can renovate the popular Hilo facility located within Gilbert Carvalho Park.

Gilbert Carvahlo Park

Gilbert Carvahlo Park

Pi‘ihonua Gymnasium is expected to be reopened at the end of May.

County personnel will repair the gym’s floor, apply a fresh coating of protective wax, install new baskets and backboards, and add more interior lighting.

The Carvalho Park baseball field, parking lots and pavilion will remain available for public use while construction is occurring. However, the park’s playground is being replaced with new keiki equipment, so that area is currently closed to protect the public.

For more information, please contact Chris Drayer, recreation director assigned to Gilbert Carvalho Park, by calling 961-8737.

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park Attracted 1,583,209 Visitors in 2013

National Park Service (NPS) visitation figures released today show that 1,583,209 people visited Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park in 2013 – an increase of 6.7 percent from 2012 visitation statistics.

Panoramic of Halema‘uma‘u from Kīlauea caldera rim

Panoramic of Halema‘uma‘u from Kīlauea caldera rim

“We are pleased to again report an increase of visitors eager to enjoy Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, a World Heritage Site,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “The dual eruptions from Kīlauea, the numerous cultural and scientific programs offered, and the incredibly diverse, protected ecosystem of native plants and animals, continue to attract people from the mainland, around the world, and locally,” she said.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is open 24 hours a day, all year long. The 333,086-acre park stretches from sea level to the summit of Mauna Loa – earth’s most massive active volcano – at 13,677 feet, and encompasses seven ecological zones, 155 miles of trails and 66 miles of paved roadways. It is also home to Kīlauea, one of earth’s most active volcanoes which is presently erupting from two locations: Halema‘uma‘u Crater at its summit (since 2008), and in the remote east rift zone from the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent (since 1983).

Hiking Kīlauea Iki Trail

Hiking Kīlauea Iki Trail

To see the complete list of recreational visitation to all 401 national park units, and other visitor-related statistics, visit

The new visitation figures come one week after NPS released its economic impact report from 2012, which revealed that 1,483,928 visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park that year spent $113,376,400 in communities near the park. That spending supported 1,353 jobs in the local area. To download the report, visit

Anyone Lose a Dinghy?

The Coast Guard is seeking the public’s assistance after receiving a report of an unmanned adrift, black and grey inflatable dinghy offshore approximately two and a half miles west of Kaanapali, Maui, Monday.

The Coast Guard is seeking the public's assistance after receiving a report of an unmanned adrift black and grey inflatable dinghy offshore approximately two and a half miles west of Kaanapali, Maui, March 10, 2014

The Coast Guard is seeking the public’s assistance after receiving a report of an unmanned adrift black and grey inflatable dinghy offshore approximately two and a half miles west of Kaanapali, Maui, March 10, 2014

The passenger ferry Molokai Princess reported the dinghy adrift at approximately 7:45 a.m., and took it in tow back to Kaunakakai Harbor, Molokai. The dinghy is approximately 10 feet long with a 6 horsepower outboard engine. There are no markings on the vessel, the oars and equipment in the dinghy appear to be stowed and it appeared to have broken free from another vessel.

No one has been reported missing or in distress in the area.

The Coast Guard advises the public to register and label all watercraft and equipment with contact information in order to quickly account for owners and prevent any unnecessary searches.

Through the Operation Paddle Smart program, the Coast Guard offers a free “If Found” decal to be placed in a visible location on small, human-powered watercraft.  The information on the sticker can allow response entities to quickly identify the vessel’s owner and aid search and rescue planners in determining the best course of action.

The stickers can be obtained for free at local harbormasters, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, from Honolulu Sail and Power Squadron offices and at select marine retail and supply stores.

Anyone with information that may help identify the owner of the dinghy is asked to contact the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center at (808) 842-2600.

Hapa Fund Grants Now Available for Waimea Community Nonprofits

Hawai’i Community Foundation (HCF) announced today that grants benefiting the Waimea community on Hawai’i Island are now available through the Hapa Fund of HCF.

Hawaii Community Foundation

Established by a local resident, the Fund supports organizations and community groups in their grassroots, hands-on fundraising activities. Organizations can receive up to $2,500 in matching grant dollars from the Fund to multiply the impact of their fundraising event efforts.

To apply to the Hapa Fund, organizations should submit a letter no longer than two pages with the following information:

  • Organization’s purpose
  • Project or event summary
  • Fundraising plan
  • Number of people involved

A project budget must also be included with the letter.  Letters may be submitted prior to the event or activity, however, evidence of the funds raised for the match requirement must be submitted before receiving the grant.

Application letters to the Hapa Fund should be mailed in duplicate (two copies) to the Waimea office of Hawai’i Community Foundation at 65-1279 Kawaiahe Road, Parker Square #203, Kamuela, HI 96743.

Friends of NELHA Continues Energy Lecture Series

Friends of NELHA (FON) will host the third in a series of free lectures regarding energy at the NELHA Gateway Visitor Center on Wednesday, March 19.
NEHLA Aerial

Pacific Biodiesel Technologies Vice President and co-founder Kelly King will be the featured speaker on “Fuels and Transportation.” The Exceptional Energy Lecture Series event will start at 5:30 pm and admission is free.

Kelly King cofounded Pacific Biodiesel, a renewable energy company, with her husband Robert King in 1996. The company was the first commercial biodiesel firm in the US and was initially created to alleviate the disposal of waste cooking oil at Maui’s landfill. As director of marketing and communications, Kelly has helped to develop 13 biodiesel plants in the US and Japan.

The company’s newest venture, Big Island Biodiesel, began production in the 4th quarter of 2012.  This 5.5M- gallon-a-year biodiesel plant located in Kea’au on Hawaii Island is the most modern facility in the world.  Featuring zero-waste processing, this plant produces the highest quality biodiesel available in the country.  The company also has a grease trap and used cooking oil operation servicing the entire Big Island.

In 2006, with Daryl Hannah and Willie and Annie Nelson, Kelly co-founded the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance, a national nonprofit organization that is developing a certification process for sustainable biodiesel practices.  In Hawaii, Kelly has been active as a board member on many local nonprofits and served on the Hawaii State Board of Education, representing Maui County.  She is currently chair of the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance and serves on the board of Hawaii Renewable Energy Alliance, Hawaii Energy Policy Forum, and UHMC Sustainable Sciences Management Advisory Council.  She is working on several agriculture-related projects with Pacific Biodiesel.

Since its founding, Pacific Biodiesel has been involved in all aspects of the biodiesel business, from fuel crop research and waste oil collection to fuel processing, quality management, and distribution. The company designs, owns, builds, and operates scalable, multiple-feedstock biodiesel plants utilizing used cooking oil, yellow grease, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil, tallow, and other feedstocks.  The company’s community-based biodiesel model has become a standard for the sustainable, renewable fuel industry.

The Exceptional Energy Lecture Series consists of five lectures on energy issues. The series is sponsored in part by the Hawaii Energy Resource Center, a component of the County of Hawaii’s Department of Research and Development.

Call FON at 808.329.8073 for more information on the Exceptional Energy Lecture Series.

Hawai’i Community Foundation Restoration Partnership Announces over $400,000 in Grants to Local Nonprofits

The Hawai’i Community Foundation (HCF) today announced its 2014 recipients of the Community Restoration Partnership (CRP) grants, totaling over $400,000 to fund the protection and restoration of Hawai’i’s coastal areas.

Hawaii Community FoundationCRP is a collaboration of government agencies, foundations and private donors who provide funds to ensure healthy and sustainable fishery resources, advance innovative restoration techniques, engage local communities in active environmental stewardship, and encourage science-based monitoring to evaluate restoration project success.

“As Hawai’i’s unique coastal resources face increasing threats from invasive species, climate change, and development, it’s more important than ever to support the key organizations who help to protect our environment,” said Josh Stanbro, director of environment and sustainability at HCF. “Through the Community Restoration Partnership, we provide financial assistance for on-the-ground restoration projects that improve ecosystem function and support traditional cultural practices.”

CRP began in 2009 as a partnership with NOAA’s Restoration Center, supported by former Senator Daniel K. Inouye.  Since its inception, the partnership has provided more than $1.5 million in funding to local community organizations, actively bridging cultural and environmental stewardship efforts.

“One of the main priorities of the Hawaii Tourism Authority is to support programs that protect and enhance Hawai’i’s unique natural resources and environment, which are frequented by visitors,” said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the HTA. “Supporting HCF’s Community Restoration Partnership programs allows us to sustain our environment, which is one of our most precious destination assets.”

The Community Restoration Partnership is made possible by the Hawai’i Community Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Restoration Center, the Weissman Family Foundation, the Hawai’i Tourism Authority.  Another key partner-the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation-recently offered a new challenge grant to inspire new funders to join CRP.  All funding partners jointly review and recommend grants each year through a unique advisory process that also includes resource specialists.

“The most successful community groups have tackled their projects with multiple partners,” says Stanbro. “We’ve taken the same collaborative approach on the funding side and learned a lot in the process.”

Interested funders for the Community Restoration Partnership may contact Josh Stanbro at 808-537-6333 or Grant applications for upcoming projects will soon be available, due for submission in July 2014. For more information, visit

2014 Community Restoration Partnership Grant Recipients:

Friends of Waikīkī Aquarium: A sustainable program that seeks to restore the native marine plant and herbivore community to the reef at Waikiki, specifically addressing invasive algae (seaweeds).

Hui Aloha Kīholo: A restoration project that includes activities in six anchialine pools along the North Kona coastline, protecting the unique habitat from invasive non-native fish, as well as re-establishing a sustainable population of ‘opae’ula to reintroduce the region-specific traditional practice of palu ‘opelu fishing.

Kaiola Canoe Club: A program that clears mangrove and other invasive plants and replants native vegetation to reclaim nearly three acres near the Pu’ali Stream, organizes community work days with youth organizations, and serves the neighboring communities.

Kohala Watershed Partnership: Continued work to restore native vegetation and reduce the bare ground on the Kohala watershed, providing an opportunity for Pelekane Bay’s marine habitats to regenerate while sharing methods and knowledge with restoration projects along the Kohala coastline to multiply the impact of their work on land-based sediment pollution.

Kupu: Kupu’s CU program (formerly known as the Urban Corp), provides under-serviced youth and young adults an opportunity to gain work experience and the chance to graduate with a high school diploma, including a total of 2,500 hours of volunteer service each year at sites that focus on marine resources as well as expanding natural resource and coastal environmental knowledge to a population of young adults who often have little to no knowledge or experience with natural cultural resources.

Mālama Pupukea-Waimea: A project that protects the coral reef habitat in the Pupukea Marine Life Conservation District, reducing sediment flow to the reef by installing native plants to hold in place soil currently eroding from the Pupukea Beach Park.

Maunalei Community Marine & Terrestrial Management: A project to protect and restore the coral reef habitat and estuaries and reduce annual land-based sediment by fencing near shore coastal watershed habitat to eliminate overgrazing impacts, allow for native flora plantings, implement permaculture erosion mitigation methods, establish a good well source of water to support traditional farming practice, and create a multi-story agroforest to stabilize the slope and provide food crops for the community.

The Nature Conservancy of Hawai’i: The Nature Conservancy of Hawai’i’s Kane’ohe Bay Reef Restoration Project will construct a mini-barge that will be used to remove and transport invasive algae from the reef in Kaneʻohe Bay to the Heʻeia wetlands to be used as fertilizer by the nonprofit Kakoʻo ʻOiwi’s agricultural projects, as well as support the restoration of native sea urchins and other herbivores in Kane’ohe Bay to continually manage algae regrowth.

Waipa Foundation: A project to continue the restoration of function and habitat in a degraded segment of Waipa Stream and its estuary as well as enhancing coastal wetland habitat, targeting another two acres in 2014 to build upon the four acres already treated.