Governor Ige Appoints Bennette Misalucha to State Senate Seat

Gov. David Ige has appointed Bennette Misalucha to fill the late Sen. Breene Harimoto’s state Senate seat. State Senate District 16 includes Pearl City, Momilani, Pearlridge, ‘Aiea, Royal Summit, ‘Aiea Heights, Newtown, Waimalu, Halawa and Pearl Harbor.

Bennette Misalucha

Sen. Harimoto died while in office on June 18, 2020.

“Bennette is a long-time member of our community, and she understands the current issues and challenges we face. I know she will ably represent the residents in this district until the new senator is elected in November,” said Gov. David Ige.

Misalucha is a community leader in Hawaiʻi who has held key executive positions in banking, marketing, public policy and community outreach sectors. She has owned her own business strategy and communications company since 2008. Prior to this, she was Vice President and Regional Director for Government and Community Relations for Actus Lend Lease, and she spent more than 16 years in banking where she fulfilled a variety of responsibilities. Her last role was in Corporate Banking as a Senior Vice President and Senior Manager at Central Pacific Bank. Early in her career, Bennette spent seven years in the media world as a reporter, writer and news producer, both locally (KHON Channel 2 News) and in the Philippines.

Misalucha is a graduate of University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and an honors graduate of the Bank Administration Institute’s Graduate School of Retail Bank Management (based at the University of Wisconsin in Madison). She also attended two years of Pacific Coast Banking School at the University of Washington.

“I am humbled by this opportunity, as service to others has been my lifelong calling. My great desire is to continue the meaningful work that Sen. Breene Harimoto has started. I think our community deserves no less,” said Misalucha.

Misalucha will take office once the state senate qualifies her and administers the oath of office.

High Bacteria Count Advisory at Honokōhau Harbor

The public is advised of a water quality exceedance of enterococci at Honokōhau Harbor, in South Hawai‘i. Levels of 178 per 100 mL have been detected during routine beach monitoring. The Department of Health Clean Water Branch provides beach monitoring and notification through its beach program. The advisory for this beach is posted because testing for enterococci indicate that potentially harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa, or parasites may be present in the water. Swimming at beaches with pollution in the water may make you ill.

Honokohau Harbor

Children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are the most likely populations to develop illnesses or infections after coming into contact with polluted water, usually while swimming. Fortunately, while swimming-related illnesses can be unpleasant, they are usually not very serious – they require little or no treatment or get better quickly upon treatment, and they have no long-term health effects.

The most common illness associated with swimming in water polluted by fecal pathogens is gastroenteritis. It occurs in a variety of forms that can have one or more of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, stomachache, diarrhea, headache or fever. Other minor illnesses associated with swimming include ear, eye, nose and throat infections. In highly polluted water, swimmers may occasionally be exposed to more serious diseases.

Not all illnesses from a day at the beach are from swimming. Food poisoning from improperly refrigerated picnic lunches may also have some of the same symptoms as swimming-related illnesses, including stomachache, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. At any given time and place, we are constantly exposed to a variety of microorganisms that have the potential of making us ill.

The beach has been posted and this advisory will remain in effect until water sample results no longer exceed the threshold level of 130 enterococci per 100 mL.

In-Person Driver’s Education Classes Approved to Resume Aug. 1

The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) has authorized Driver’s Education instructors to resume in-person classes and behind-the-wheel training as part of the State’s Graduated Licensing Program on Aug. 1, 2020. Instructors may teach classes in-person, virtually, or by using a combination of these methods.

HDOT has provided Driver’s Education instructors with the following guidelines on in-person classes:

  • Instructors must follow CDC guidelines for small in-person classes including hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, use of cloth face coverings, and posting of signs to promote protective measures
  • Class size is limited to 10 people per class
  • Waivers/Liability forms must be signed by the student or guardian prior to participation in class
  • Students and guardians must be educated NOT to attend classes if they are sick. Instructors should also ask students and guardians screening questions prior to participation in class
  • All class participants (instructor and students) must wear non-medical grade face masks or face shields if a medical condition prevents the use of a face covering
  • Pre-class non-contact temperature checks are recommended
  • High-touch points within the classroom should be sanitized per CDC guidance
  • Instructors are to provide hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes or have students bring their own sanitizers
  • All class participants are encouraged to frequently wash their hands for at least 20 seconds
  • Instructors should space classroom seating at least 6-feet apart
  • Classes are NOT to be more than 5 hours in duration
  • The 30 hours of classroom instruction must be spaced out over a 6-week period
  • The 6 hours of behind-the-wheel training can be taught concurrently or after classroom instruction

HDOT Highway Safety staff will maintain copies of instructor records such as waivers, student logs, and schedules.

Behind-the-wheel training by Driver’s Education instructors is also permitted to resume for instructors with approved COVID safety plans. Instructors are encouraged to follow CDC guidance for drivers-for-hire to the extent practicable.

The traveling public is reminded that behind-the-wheel road tests are administered by their respective county and that availability of appointments varies. Contacts for the county driver’s licensing offices are:

Oahu – https://www.honolulu.gov/cms-csd-menu/site-csd-sitearticles/38020-city-services-smart-options.html

Maui County – https://www.mauicounty.gov/2125/DMV-Wait-Times

Hawaii Island – https://www.hawaiicounty.gov/departments/finance/vehicle-registration-licensing

Kauai – https://www.kauai.gov/DriversLicense

HDOT appreciates the cooperation of driver’s education instructors in reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and encourages the public to stay informed through local media and through official websites such as http://hidot.hawaii.gov/ and https://hawaiicovid19.com/.   

County of Hawaii to Receive $80 Million in CARES Act Funding

Hawaiʻi County will receive $80 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding. The County is moving quickly to get these critical dollars into our community to provide financial assistance during the COVID-19 emergency.

To help manage financial recovery programs, the County will release a Request for Proposals (RFP) on Sunday, July 12 at hawaiicounty.gov/cares. Nonprofits, financial institutions or other management organizations with the ability to deliver direct services or sub-awards to communities, businesses, and individuals are invited to apply. Applicants can be nonprofit or for-profit entities with the capacity to receive grant awards starting from $250,000 to more than $2 million. Funds must be distributed to the community no later than December 30, 2020. Contractors must comply with all federal and state CARES Act guidelines. Individuals and individual businesses are not eligible to apply if seeking to address only their needs.

Programs addressed in the RFP include:

Food Assistance – Grants to nonprofits to purchase local farm produce, distribute to restaurants for meal preparation and delivery of meals to vulnerable families and other food need allocations. $3,992,000

Childcare – Grants to licenses childcare providers to support expansion of operations and incentives for new childcare providers; supplies including sanitation, disinfecting supplies, foggers, UV lights and temperature scanners. $2,500,000

Community and Family Resilience – Grants to support new and existing social-related health and wellness programs that build resilient communities through building capacity, supporting the creation and strengthening of relationships that build social capital and foster cooperation and trust. $4,000,000

Connectivity Enhancement – Grants for micro-transmitters and tablets to support remote telework, business and education. $1,000,000

Business and Nonprofit Assistance – Grants to support financial obligations including but not limited to rent, leases, mortgage, vehicle leases, master supply agreements and non-governmental utilities and reopening costs. $22,000,000

Individual Grants to Prevent Housing Displacement – Grants to provide unduplicated monetary assistance for rent, leases, mortgages and non-governmental utilities to households directly impacted by COVID-19. $10,000,000

For more details on these programs, visit hawaiicounty.gov/cares. Applications for the RFP are due by Tuesday, July 21 at 4:30 p.m. by electronic submission.

To answer potential applicant questions, the County is hosting a webinar on Monday, July 13 from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. To sign up for the webinar, or to submit questions in advance, email cohCARES@hawaiicounty.gov.

UHERO Seeks Where Businesses are Heading in Pandemic

The University of Hawaiʻi Economic Research Organization (UHERO) is recruiting businesses to complete a second survey geared toward understanding the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Hawaiʻi’s businesses.

The survey asks questions about changes in employment and employee wages, monthly revenue and revenue sources, the current state of operations, plans for opening trans-Pacific tourism, impact of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and future outlook.

 UHERO Executive Director Carl Bonham

“Much has changed since our last survey,” UHERO Executive Director Carl Bonham said. “The PPP program was expanded and modified, the Kamaʻaina economy has re-opened, and tourism is expected to begin a gradual re-opening next month. This survey will provide invaluable information about what businesses are experiencing on the ground and how the changing environment is affecting their expectations.”

Results from the April 2020 survey revealed the hardest hit industries were accommodations (hotels) and retail businesses.

UHERO, housed in UH Mānoa’s College of Social Sciences, is partnering with the Chamber of Commerce HawaiʻiHawaiʻi Island Chamber of CommerceKauaʻi Chamber of Commerce and Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce to field the survey.

UH President: Protecting Our International Students

This message was shared with the students, faculty, and staff of the 10-campus University of Hawaiʻi system on July 9, 2020.

Aloha,

This past Monday the federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provided new guidance on the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) that governs the eligibility for international students to remain in the U.S. for their studies. While it has long been the case that international students cannot take a fully online course load while in the U.S., this requirement was waived during spring and summer 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic forced higher education institutions across the country to abruptly shift to fully online instruction.

The new guidance revokes the spring 2020 guidance, so for fall 2020, international students in the U.S. are not permitted to enroll in a schedule of only online courses. Most troublingly, this guidance would apply even if all their courses shift to fully online in the middle of a semester again.

We view the new guidelines as unfair, harmful and inappropriate in the unpredictable situation we all face during this COVID-19 pandemic crisis. The federal government’s new guidance has created unnecessary fear and uncertainty for international students on our UH campuses and across the nation.

Our first and highest priority right now is to ensure we can enable all our international students to continue their UH education in Hawaiʻi. There were nearly 2,400 undergraduate and graduate international students enrolled at UH’s 10 campuses in fall 2019. They have long been vital members of the UH ʻohana, and we embrace our commitments to support their education here.

After studying the new DHS guidance and reviewing the SEVP rules, we believe that we can enable our international students to continue their UH studies under the current guidance, even if the campus needs to revert back online. As we finalize our approach we will advise our international students accordingly.

Our experience is that this type of situation can be quite dynamic, which adds to the uncertainty. We are working with our congressional delegation and professional associations to attempt to correct these guidelines.

E malama pono,
David Lassner
UH President

Big Island Press Club Awards Scholarships to 5 Students

The Big Island Press Club is awarding scholarships totaling $5,600 to five students this year. The press club annually awards scholarships to students pursuing a higher education in journalism or a related field.

The scholarship recipients are:

● Tianna Morimoto, a 2015 graduate of Konawaena High School and 2019 graduate of Chapman University with a degree in communication studies with a broadcast journalism minor. Morimoto, who interned at West Hawaii Today during the 2018-19 winter break, is pursuing a master’s degree in journalism at the University of Nevada at Reno. Morimoto, a two-time BIPC scholarship winner, is the recipient of the $1,500 Bill Arballo Scholarship.

● Jordan Virtue, a 2016 graduate of Hawaii Preparatory Academy and 2020 graduate of Harvard University, where she was on the editorial staff of The Harvard Crimson, the school’s student-run daily newspaper. Virtue, who has published a feature story in the Washington Post about shave ice, is entering University of Oxford, where she’ll pursue a master’s degree in history. A three-time BIPC scholarship winner, she is the recipient of the $1,000 Marcia Reynolds Scholarship. 

● Danielle Brown, a 2017 graduate of Hilo High School, and junior English major at George Fox University, where she is also an intercollegiate tennis player. Brown is a two-time BIPC scholarship winner and the recipient of $1,000 from the combined Bob Miller and Jack Markey scholarships.

● Piper Haitsuka, a 2019 graduate of Makua Lani Christian Academy and sophomore journalism major at California State University-Sacramento. Haitsuka is, for the second consecutive year, the recipient of the $600 Yukino Fukabori Scholarship.

● Ku’uhiapo Jeong, a 2020 graduate of Kamehameha Schools-Hawaii Campus, will enter the University of Hawaii at Hilo this fall, and has announced his intentions to study communications and psychology. Jeong is the recipient of the $500 Hugh Clark Scholarship.

Mark E. Recktenwald, Chief Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no scholarship dinner. Instead, the BIPC Scholarship awardees this year will be honored via a Zoom online ceremony on Tuesday, July 21 at 6:30 p.m. The featured speaker is the Honorable Mark E. Recktenwald, Chief Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court. A 1978 Harvard University graduate, Recktenwald was a reporter for the United Press International Honolulu Bureau prior to pursing a law degree, which he received in 1986 from the University of Chicago.

The public can view the scholarship ceremony live via the Big Island Press Club’s public Facebook Page. The ceremony will be archived on the page for later access, as well.

The BIPC Scholarship committee for 2020 is: Robert Duerr, writer for Hawaii Fishing News and numerous national outdoor publications, BIPC treasurer and committee chair; Royelen Boykie, planned giving steward for Food & Water Watch and BIPC board member; and John Burnett, police and courts reporter for Hawaii Tribune-Herald, BIPC immediate past president and three-time BIPC Scholarship recipient.  

Since 1967, the Big Island Press Club has been an advocate for openness in government and protecting the public’s right to know. More information on the club can be found at its website at bigislandpressclub.org.

2,387 People Arrived in Hawaii Yesterday

Today marks 15 weeks since the state’s mandatory 14-day self-quarantine started for all passengers arriving in Hawaii from out of state. Yesterday, 2,387 people arrived in Hawaii.

During this same time last year approximately 35,000 passengers arrived in Hawaii daily, including residents and visitors.

This table shows the number of people who arrived by air from out of state yesterday and does not include interisland travel. This data was collected from the Hawaii Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Mandatory Travel Declaration Form.

The following table shows what the Oahu visitors indicated as the purpose of their trip, and they can choose more than one.

DOE Announces 2020-21 School Year Models

School leaders created elementary, middle/intermediate, and high school models for the reopening of the 2020-21 year. Models may vary due to number and size of school facilities; ability to accommodate enrollment numbers; and impact of instructional staff vacancies.

Individual school models were announced July 8. Schools selected their instructional models and are working on finalizing implementation plans. These include new processes and procedures for ensuring proper social distancing, and supporting students and families with distance-learning models. Implementation plans will be rolled out in the coming weeks.

Each school model adopted must:

  • Ensure 180 days of instruction;
  • Prioritize kindergarten through grade 2 and pre-kindergarten students for face-to-face learning on campus, as applicable;
  • Prioritize vulnerable students including, but not limited to, children with disabilities, English learners, and economically disadvantaged students, for face-to-face or online learning, as appropriate, on campus;
  • Allow for student support services to be provided;
  • Ensure compliance with social distancing and health and sanitation guidelines from state health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and
  • Abide by the current collective bargaining agreements between the labor unions and HIDOE.

Click here for more information about the specific models that were considered for elementary, middle/intermediate and secondary schools. A list of schools and their 2020-21 models are available below. Please click on the link of the Complex Area to view the selected models. 

Oahu

Hawaii Island

Maui

Kauai

UH Research Argues Deep Sea Mining Could Threaten Midwater Ecosystems

Interest in deep-sea mining for copper, cobalt, zinc, manganese and other valuable metals has grown substantially in the last decade and mining activities are anticipated to begin soon. A new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, led by University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa researchers, argues that deep-sea mining poses significant risks, not only to the area immediately surrounding mining operations but also to the water hundreds to thousands of feet above the seafloor, threatening vast midwater ecosystems. Further, the scientists suggest how these risks could be evaluated more comprehensively to enable society and managers to decide if and how deep-sea mining should proceed.

Midwater animal biodiversity. Squid, fish, shrimp, copepods, medusa, filter feeding jellies and marine worms are among the midwater creatures that could be affected by deep sea mining. Photos © by E. Goetze, K. Peijnenburg, D. Perrine,  Hawaii Seafood Council (B. Takenaka, J. Kaneko), S. Haddock, J. Drazen, B. Robison, DEEPEND (Danté Fenolio) and MBARI.

Currently 30 exploration licenses cover about 580,000 square miles of the seafloor on the high seas and some countries are exploring exploitation in their own water as well. Thus far, most research assessing the impacts of mining and environmental baseline survey work has focused on the seafloor.  

However, large amounts of mud and dissolved chemicals are released during mining and large equipment produces extraordinary noise—all of which travel high and wide. Unfortunately, there has been almost no study of the potential effects of mining beyond the habitat immediately adjacent to extraction activities.

“This is a call to all stakeholders and managers,” said Jeffrey Drazen, lead author of the article and UH Mānoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology professor of oceanography. “Mining is poised to move forward yet we lack scientific evidence to understand and manage the impacts on deep pelagic ecosystems, which constitute most of the biosphere. More research is needed very quickly.”

First look at potential threats

The deep midwaters of the world’s ocean represent more than 90% of the biosphere, contain 100 times more fish than the annual global catch, connect surface and seafloor ecosystems, and play key roles in climate regulation and nutrient cycles. These ecosystem services, as well as untold biodiversity, could be negatively affected by mining. The paper provides a first look at potential threats to this system.

Potential effects of mining-generated sediment plumes and noise. Credit: Drazen, et al. (2020)

“Hawai‘i is situated in the middle of some of the most likely locations for deep-sea mining,” said Drazen. “The current study shows that mining and its environmental impacts may not be confined to the seafloor thousands of feet below the surface but could threaten the waters above the seafloor, too. Harm to midwater ecosystems could affect fisheries, release metals into food webs that could then enter our seafood supply, alter carbon sequestration to the deep ocean, and reduce biodiversity which is key to the healthy function of our surrounding oceans.”

Managing to avoid harm

In accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the International Seabed Authority is required to ensure the effective protection of the marine environment, including deep midwater ecosystems, from harmful effects arising from mining-related activities. In order to minimize environmental harm, mining impacts on the midwater column must be considered in research plans and development of regulations before mining begins.

“We are urging researchers and governing bodies to expand midwater research efforts, and adopt precautionary management measures now in order to avoid harm to deep midwater ecosystems from seabed mining,” said Drazen.

Funding for this work was provided by the Schmidt Ocean Institute and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Rep. Gabbard Urges Gov. Ige to Continue 14-Day Travel Quarantine

Today, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) called on Hawai‘i Governor David Ige to continue the 14-day quarantine in effect for trans-Pacific travelers. She issued the following statement: 

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

“I strongly urge the Governor and mayors of Hawai‘i counties to continue the 14-day quarantine for trans-Pacific travelers because of the surge of COVID-19 infections occurring across the country, with many states experiencing a higher number of positive COVID-19 cases now than at any point during this pandemic. In addition, we are facing an extreme shortage in testing reagents, personal protective equipment, and medical supplies. We must put the health and lives of the people of Hawai‘i first and take necessary actions to contain and defeat this virus in our state. The travel quarantine must remain in place for the time being as we focus on containing and defeating the virus, massively increasing our testing and tracing capacity, and securing our medical supply chains. These steps are essential to get to a place where the people of Hawai‘i can be confident that travelers coming to our state will not bring greater risk and COVID-19 infections with them.”

DOH Begins Issuing Red Placards to Restaurants & Bars that Violate Physical Distancing

There are now severe consequences for food establishments that do not take physical distancing and other guidance seriously. The Hawai‘i Department of Health’s Food Safety Branch will begin to temporarily suspend the operations of restaurants, bars and other food establishments that do not comply with physical distancing, wearing cloth face masks and other required guidance.

“The department is taking these steps now to enforce preventive measures that are known to be effective in preventing the transmission of the disease, especially as we have seen a recent increase in the number of COVID cases and evidence of community spread,” said Health Director Bruce Anderson. “Most food establishments in Hawai‘i are conscientious and trying their best to comply with health guidance. Nevertheless, we feel these steps are necessary to assure all restaurants and other food establishments are doing everything they can to protect the health of the public and their employees,” said Anderson.

The health department issued guidance to restaurants, markets and food manufacturers on reopening in late May 2020 to minimize the risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19 for their employees and customers.

The strict enforcement also enables the Department of Health to effectively respond to consumer complaints about non-compliant food establishments and enhances the state’s readiness to implement a pre-travel testing program on August 1.

Using existing state law Hawai‘i Administrative Rules, Section §11-50-9(f)(3), Department of Health inspectors can temporarily shut down a food establishment if its practices pose a danger to public health by spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Using the familiar color-coded placard system, the Department of Health will issue red placards to these food establishments.

“As Hawai‘i reopens and moves toward economic recovery, no one wants to see a restaurant temporarily close and miss out on opportunities to serve customers,” said Peter Oshiro, chief of the Department of Health’s Food Safety Branch. “We recognize many Hawai‘i food establishment operators are doing their best to protect the health of their employees and customers, and we need all operators to comply with the guidance and take it seriously. This is a critical time for food establishments to tighten their practices instead of becoming lax,” he said.

Restaurants and especially bars have been shown to have a higher transmission of the coronavirus in respiratory droplets because of overcrowding. There is also lower adherence to physical distancing among customers who are inebriated or are engaging in loud talking or shouting in very close proximity to each other because of amplified music or noise.

If physical distancing and mask wearing violations are verified by an inspector during a routine inspection or as a result of a complaint, the following enforcement protocol will be used to encourage compliance:

  • 1st Violation: The Department of Health will issue a written warning and educate the food establishment that it is in violation of the Department of Health’s guidance. The food establishment will be informed that a second violation will result in issuance of a red placard for creating an imminent health hazard. Unlike the color-coded system for sanitation and safe food-handling compliance, there is no yellow placard.
  • 2nd Violation: The Department of Health will issue a red placard. This will result in immediate closure of the establishment and a news release will announce the red placard posting. The food establishment may request a reinspection and review to safely reinstate their operations.

“Food establishments play an important role in our economy and in public health. Restaurants saw the value of our color-coded placards for compliance with food safety regulations, and we believe this more stringent system will encourage food establishments to rise to the new challenge to protect their bottom line while also protecting the public’s health,” Oshiro said.

Kaiwiki Park Closed Until Further Notice for Repairs

The County of Hawai‘i Department of Parks and Recreation announces the closure of Kaiwiki Park beginning Saturday, August 1, 2020, until further notice. The facility will be undergoing necessary improvements and repairs. 

The Department apologizes for any inconvenience this closure may cause and thanks the general public for their patience.

For more information, please call 961-8311.

Vehicle Registration & Licensing Open for Limited In-Person Services

The County of Hawai‘i Department of Finance wants to remind our customers that the Division of Vehicle Registration & Licensing (VRL) offices are open for limited in-person services, and the best way to save time is by using the on-line appointment scheduler.



All VRL offices, with the exception of the Nā‘ālehu and Waimea offices, will be open for limited services from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Nā‘ālehu office will be open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays by appointment only, and the Waimea office still remains closed.

Operations will be modified to ensure the safety of both customers and employees. Face coverings must be worn, and customers must adhere to the recommended 6-foot social distancing. Only those customers receiving services will be allowed inside the lobby, and minors or those needing additional assistance may have one additional person accompany them, if needed.  

Appointments for both vehicle registration and driver’s license transactions may now be scheduled online; walk-ins are welcome but will be subject to daily limits based on the availability of staffing and the estimated transaction processing time. 

With higher demand upon the initial reopening, the Vehicle Registration & Licensing offices will be limiting transactions to the following:

Driver’s License Transactions
• Renewals of driver’s licenses and State IDs that are either expired or will be expiring in the months of July or August 2020.
• Initial driver’s licenses (out-of-state transfers), permits (written tests) and state identification.
• Replacement of lost driver’s license, permit or state identification.

Motor Vehicle Transactions
• Ownership transfers
• Initial registrations
• Duplicate titles and registrations
• Replacement license plates and emblems

Due to ongoing health concerns, no road tests are being scheduled at this time. Additionally, no appointments for vehicle registration renewals will be offered so that we may concentrate on those vehicles that need to be registered and are currently operating without a valid registration or license plates. Vehicle Registration Renewals may be completed through mail-in, online, drop box, or automated kiosk alternatives.  

Auto dealers and fleet registrations will only be able to use the drop-off and pick-up services. Customers with driver’s licenses that aren’t expiring within the next 30 days may use the online appointment scheduler to book appointments; however, please don’t make appointments for future dates that are less than a month before your current driver’s license will expire. 

We recognize that getting a “Gold Star” compliant driver’s license or state ID is important to many of you; however, please be aware that Department of Homeland Security has extended the deadline until October 1, 2021.

Vehicle Registration Renewals 
(1) Mail in renewals can be sent to County of Hawai‘i, Motor Vehicle Registration, 101 Pauahi St., #5, Hilo, HI 96720.
(2) Online applications can be found on the county website.   
(3) Kiosks are located at the Safeway stores in Hilo and Kona as well as the Foodland store in Waimea, and at the Aupuni Center in Hilo adjacent to the County’s Planning Department.
(4) In-wall drop off slot at the Hilo MVR office. (Please do not drop off or mail in renewal applications with “cash”).

Safety Inspections:
• Safety inspection certificates/stickers that expired prior to May 31, 2020 will remain valid through August 31, 2020. This will allow you to renew your vehicle using any of the 4 listed methods above. Your vehicle must still be properly registered with the County Motor Vehicle Registration office to legally operate on public roadways. 
• Safety check certificates/stickers that expire on or after June 30, 2020 will be granted a 3-month extension. For example, if your safety check certificate/sticker expires at the end of September 2020, you will have an additional 3-months (or until December 31, 2020) to get a new safety check inspection performed on your vehicle. Upon passing the vehicle inspection, you will be issued a certificate of inspection and sticker that will be valid for 12 months from the date the vehicle is inspected. 

Driver’s License or State ID’s renewals (issued after May 1, 2014): 
Mail in renewal applications to 349 Kapi‘olani St., Hilo, HI 96720.  Duplicate license requests for lost licenses will also be accepted by mail.  Please see our website for application details and forms.

We appreciate your patience and look forward to expanded services in the hopefully, not too distant future.

LETTER: Oahu has No Alternate Recycling & Landfill Facility Once SB2386 Forces PVT to Close

Aloha,

Albert Shigemura, President of PVT Land Company, sent the attached letter to all State Senators on Wednesday advising them that passage of Senate Bill 2386 will leave Oahu with no recycling and landfill facility to accept construction and demolition material once this proposed law forces PVT to close. This controversial bill, which affects all landfills statewide, goes before the full Senate for a final vote this Friday.

H-POWER and the Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill are not permitted to accept construction and demolition material. They are permitted to accept municipal solid waste.

The second attachment is a letter sent by Shigemura to all State Senators on June 29 advising them of the detrimental effects that Senate Bill 2386 will cause for the construction industry as a whole, and for the safe, legal disposal of construction and demolition materials. 

Following is a comment from Shigemura on this bill for your consideration:

“Senate Bill 2386 will be a disaster for Hawaii’s construction industry if this law is enacted. PVT is Oahu’s only recycling and landfill facility that is certified to legally accept construction and demolition materials. There is no alternate facility currently in place – or even planned for – that can fulfill this important responsibility if PVT is forced to close due to the passage of Senate Bill 2386.

“This legislation will significantly drive up costs for construction projects of all sizes, and we would likely see an increase in illegal dumping. If this state law forces PVT to close, the responsibility for disposing of construction and demolition materials will fall to the City and County of Honolulu. However, the City has stated for the public record that it will take at least 7 to 10 years to develop a new construction and demolition landfill site on Oahu.”

Albert Shigemura, President

PVT Land Company

Letter’s to the editor do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Damon Tucker.

Schatz, Gabbard, Case Strongly Oppose Efforts to Open Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument to Commercial Fishing

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and U.S. Representatives Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawai‘i) and Ed Case (D-Hawai‘i) today called on the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to end efforts to open Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM) to commercial fishing.

“The expansion of the PMNM has brought significant benefits. The larger site has drawn greater interest in its potential for science, conservation, management, culture, and history—which has, in turn, created more opportunities to partner with the external community,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter that included a detailed report on PMNM. “As you review these materials, we are confident you will concur with our judgment that no changes to the prohibited actions within the PMNM are warranted.”

In their letter opposing efforts to open the protected area, the Hawai‘i lawmakers highlighted the cultural, scientific, and conservation achievements gained since the monument’s expansion in 2016.

The Trump Administration has repeatedly threatened to open up protected marine areas to commercial exploitation, a view shared with the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (Wespac), which has encouraged the administration to take such actions. In June, President Trump opened the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, the nation’s only national monument in the Atlantic Ocean, to commercial fishing.

Schatz first proposed the expansion of the PMNM in June 2016, which was then approved by President Barack Obama later that year, making it the largest protected marine area at the time.

The full text of the letter and report can be found below.

Dear Secretaries Bernhardt and Ross:

We are writing in opposition to proposals to re-open the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM) to commercial fishing based on the milestones for science, conservation, and culture made possible under the expansion of the PMNM. We are confident that an objective review of the facts will show:

  • Science that demonstrates the value of the monument as a refuge from the pressures of fishing and environmental change;
  • Actions to manage, conserve, and restore this unique ecosystem; and
  • Successful adaptations of human activity to embrace the expanded boundaries of the PMNM: Native Hawaiians, fisheries, non-governmental organizations (NGO), and philanthropy.

In addition to the achievements we describe in our letter today, we would like to remind you of the analysis in an earlier report Senator Schatz made to you on June 6, 2017, regarding the reasons and support for the expansion of the PMNM during the previous administration. We have enclosed this report to reiterate why the expansion was initially justified, and the breadth of the coalition that supports the PMNM.

As you review these materials, we are confident you will concur with our judgment that no changes to the prohibited actions within the PMNM are warranted. 

OVERVIEW

The expansion of the PMNM created a framework for systematic exploration and management of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). It has also strengthened human connections to this remote but consequential region without significant impacts to fishery participants. Key accomplishments include:

  • Mapping and exploration of the PMNM to identify points of scientific interest for subsequent fieldwork and analysis;
  • Surveys of marine life that confirm the unique biodiversity supported by within the PMNM;
  • A robust baseline of management activities, including marine debris removal, periodic surveys of species of interest, and relocation of species threatened by habitat loss;
  • Identification and management of emerging threats to the PMNM:  invasive algae, coral bleaching, and hurricane damage;
  • Native Hawaiian participation in the management of the PMNM, and the development of research priorities; and
  • Preservation of the seascape and its ecology to support Native Hawaiian cultural practices, and provide context for archaeological sites.

The PMNM expansion has also created a framework for partnerships and collaboration among a broad spectrum of groups, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), philanthropic organizations, and marine labs. Even a partial roster of partners is impressive:

  • Jupiter Research Foundation
  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF)
  • National Marine Sanctuaries Foundation
  • Ocean Exploration Trust
  • ‘Opihi Partnership
  • Schmidt Ocean Institute
  • Vulcan Inc.

The mapping, monitoring, and research that the PMNM has been able to attract would not have been possible without the global recognition that it has achieved. In addition, the PMNM has a signature grant program designed to draw in external partners to help create private-public partnerships to support the site. Since Fiscal Fear 2017, NOAA has supported over $2 million in grants for management, research, and education in the PMNM. These funds are subject to a 100% non-federal matching requirement, but leveraged $4 million of non-federal matching funds—far above the 100% requirement. 

Even as the expansion of the PMNM has fueled the growth of conservation and management activities, fisheries have not suffered. Despite claims that the Hawai‘i longline fishery would suffer greatly under an expansion of the PMNM, NOAA records tell a different story. According to NOAA logbook summaries, the longline fishery’s highest catches over the past ten years were in 2018, 2017, and 2016—the year of the PMNM expansion, and the two following years for which logbook data are available. 

Between the substantial progress made possible by the expansion, and the lack of impact to the longline fishery, we believe that no further changes to the PMNM are warranted.

SCIENCE

Scientific inquiry into the PMNM falls into two major categories: exploration and discovery. The two activities are closely related: exploration informs scientists where to invest research resources for scientific discovery. 

For example, submarine and remotely operated vehicle (ROV) expeditions, such as those coordinated by NOAA’s Okeanos Explorer in 2016 and the E/V Nautilus exploration in 2018, have mapped numerous seamounts, and identified 14 seamount habitats with lush deep coral communities. These data have driven a better understanding of the complexity and deep-sea habitability of the PMNM and will enable targeted exploration to learn more about the deep sea communities protected by the PMNM.

One instance of the science we may see from these efforts to explore the seamounts comes from Kure atoll. In the mesophotic depths around Kure Atoll, researchers reported that 100% of the fishes were endemic to the area, meaning the entire fish community is composed of fishes that are not found anywhere else on Earth. According to the researchers, this is the highest level of endemism known from any marine ecosystem.

Just this year, the Jupiter Research Foundation conducted a passive acoustic survey of the waters of the PMNM with instruments mounted on an autonomous ocean drone. Passive acoustic technology records the sounds of the ocean with minimal disruption to the animals observed, and researchers can analyze the recordings to determine the range of species present, and approximate their abundance. This mission was completed on March 12 of this year, and scientists will be working through the data and reporting their findings.

Making these discoveries takes a commitment of resources, and a management regime capable of protecting the PMNM to preserve the integrity of the ocean ecosystem that attracts researchers. The PMNM expansion supports both. For example, prior to the expansion, only 5 of the 88 known seamounts in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone around the NWHI had been surveyed. In the years since the expansion, that number has almost doubled to 9—and the Ocean Exploration Trust is poised to almost double the number again, with a proposal to explore 8 more of the seamounts next year.  To sustain this level of scientific investment, we believe it is critical to maintain the current size and scope of the monument.

MANAGEMENT

Management of the PMNM maintains the health of the ecosystem with a set of baseline activities that include a variety of biological monitoring programs, marine debris removal, and coral reef restoration. In addition, special management actions address changed circumstances and unforeseen emergencies, such as damage from Hurricane Walaka, and the discovery of invasive algae at Pearl and Hermes Atoll—but also special support for species of interest such as monk seals, Hawaiian green sea turtles, and the black-footed albatross.  

Sequential observations of species of interest in the PMNM forms a record that allows scientists to work with managers to assess the effectiveness of their efforts, and identify areas for focus. Coral monitoring in particular has proven valuable to understand the extent and impacts of recent mass bleaching events in the Pacific during the 2014-2017 global scale coral bleaching event. Understanding how corals respond to serial bleaching events provides insight on how management can support corals to survive warmer and more acidic ocean conditions.

Species specific interventions are also a critical part of the PMNM management. For example, an estimated 96% of the Hawaiian green sea turtle population migrate to French Frigate Shoals to reproduce. Since the expansion, NOAA has increased its survey effort with an additional field researcher, longer field seasons, seven-days-per-week coverage, and saturation tagging with microchip tags on all nesting females. The increased effort will improve population and models for predicting sea turtle resilience to the changing ocean environment.

Similarly, the PMNM supports 90% of the world’s breeding population of black-footed albatross, 95% of breeding Bonin petrels, and 75% of Tristram’s storm-petrels. Each of these species lives on islands with very low elevations that are predicted to be highly susceptible to sea-level rise and storm surge in the coming century. These ocean changes put the bird populations at risk of losing their nesting habitats. In 2018 a small portion of the breeding population from the low-lying atolls was relocated to higher ground in the main Hawaiian Islands. Moving these rare seabirds’ long distances by sea supports their adaptation to an ever-changing environment and help prevent the potential loss of the species.

Marine debris removal also comprises a significant and continuous need for PMNM management. The Pacific gyre brings much of the Pacific Ocean’s trash through the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, which threatens the integrity of the PMNM. Abandoned fishing gear conglomerates and continues to entangle, trap, and kill marine life. As large masses of debris held together with netting and other gear get closer to shore, they can damage or destroy coral reefs in their path.

From mid-September through October of 2018, a team of scientists led by NOAA Fisheries’ Ecosystem Sciences Division carried out a 41-day expedition to the monument. There, they conducted in-water and shoreline marine debris surveys and removal operations totaling over 78 tons of marine debris at French Frigate Shoals, Laysan Island, Lisianski Island, Pearl and Hermes Atoll, Midway Atoll, and Kure Atoll. This particular instance is part of a cumulative multi-agency effort led by NOAA since 1996, which has removed over two million pounds of marine debris over the twenty-four years of the effort.

In addition to these baseline activities, management addresses emerging threats. For example, in recent years, morbillivirus has been recognized as a major threat to monk seals, so in the 2017 field season, 512 vaccinations were administered—protecting more than one-third of the population. Other recent management issues include assessment of coral reefs damaged by the hurricane to plan for restoration activities, and analysis of an invasive algae that is covering and killing reefs in Pearl and Hermes Atoll.

Collectively, these actions reveal a steady tempo of effort to perform necessary conservation activities for the PMNM, punctuated by special activity to address newly-discovered threats. 

MARITIME HISTORY

While the expansion has attracted attention and investment for the site’s scientific and conservation value, the PMNM is also home to remarkable maritime and military heritage sites. There are 140 potential sites (60 shipwrecks and over 70 aircraft) within the original boundaries of PMNM—and the expansion area grows that number to over 800 shipwrecks and aircraft that have been lost in PMNM, many associated with the Battle of Midway. To date, only 23 of these sites have been documented, including 18 vessels and five World War II era aircraft.

Notable highlights include the discoveries of two Japanese World War II aircraft carriers. These vessels are not covered by the Sunken Military Craft Act and would not be otherwise protected if the PMNM had not been expanded. During the extensive underwater surveying of the Battle of Midway site, the Research Vessel (R/V) Petrel, owned and operated by Vulcan Inc., discovered long lost wreckage from the battle. On October 16, 2019, the R/V Petrel crew was able to identify ship remains as those of the Japanese aircraft carrier Kaga. On October 20, 2019, they identified sonar images of the Japanese flagship Akagi. The crew aboard R/V Petrel spent several weeks surveying the massive area, documenting more than 500 square nautical miles of the ocean floor that were a part of the Battle of Midway, all within the PMNM. The wreckage of both ships was found 5,400 meters (more than 17,000 feet) below the surface. Discoveries in the deep ocean can reveal new information on this turning point in the war.

The site’s connection to maritime heritage goes beyond military history. A whaling vessel from Nantucket known as the Two Brothers was initially discovered at French Frigate Shoals in 2011, and in November, 2017, the site was added to the National Register of Historic Places. This recognition came from the site’s significant contribution to learning about Pacific maritime history and the North American whaling industry. The story of the Two Brothers draws the connection between the remotest protected area on Earth and the small communities in New England halfway around the world. It is the first shipwreck site in the PMNM be listed on the national register, and joins the USS Arizona and the USS Utah as the only other listed shipwreck sites in Hawai’i.

NATIVE HAWAIIAN CULTURE

A notable achievement of the expansion of the PMNM was the inclusion of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) as a co-trustee of the site. This historic action ensured Native Hawaiian perspectives at the highest levels of decision making for the PMNM. OHA’s status as a co-trustee is also helping to develop and implement a resource management structure that integrates the best of conventional science and traditional practices. Incorporating Native Hawaiian perspectives into management and science confers a further benefit: the preservation of the Papahānaumokuākea ecology to provide better context for Native Hawaiian cultural practices and archaeological sites.

With OHA as a co-trustee, a Native Hawaiian plan for Papahānaumokuākea: Mai Ka Pō Mai, is in the final stages of development after years of workshops and outreach to the Native Hawaiian community. When it is completed, Mai Ka Pō Mai, will be a guidance document with updated and expanded management practices informed by years of shared experience operating the monument, and it will establish a framework for Native Hawaiian access, research, customary use, and traditional practice within the PMNM.

The process of developing this guidance has created a climate of cooperation with remarkable success stories. For example, cooperation among the co-trustees facilitated the collection, transportation and storage of deceased albatrosses and tropical birds from the PMNM. The plumage from the birds was used in the restoration of kāhili (royal standards used as a symbol of the ali’i chiefs and families of the Hawaiian Islands) in the throne room of the historic ‘Iolani Palace. The features were also used to make two kāhili that were installed in Lili’uokalani Hall at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

In addition, for over 10 years, the Monument Management Board has supported almost annual intertidal monitoring expeditions, which integrates cultural knowledge and practices with western science to assess and better understand the shorelines and shallow waters of high islands within PMNM.  Participants survey Nihoa, Mokumanamana, La Perouse Pinnacle at French Frigate Shoals and Gardner Pinnacles. This ongoing research, led by members of the ‘Opihi Partnership, a public/private collaborative partnership, informs communities across Hawai‘i about the development of sustainable harvesting protocols, establishment of rest areas and important baseline information about the rocky intertidal shorelines of Hawai‘i. The dual focus of western science and traditional knowledge has served as a platform in which cultural practitioners and scientists can engage and inform each other in a space that is neutral and welcoming.

It also teaches community members who participate in these expeditions about the true meaning of ʻĀina momona, a place of abundance, where harvesting is truly limited and inspires community members to go back to their homes and work to cooperatively manage the nearshore intertidal resources in their own back yards. ʻĀina momona describes a land that is rich, abundant, plentiful, sweet and fat. It is a land that abounds in and produces an abundance of food. Expeditions have been funded by both the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

The work of the ‘Opihi Partnership is only one aspect of the important work enabled by the monument expansion at Nihoa and Mokumanamana Islands. Nihoa and Mokumanamana are on the National Historic Register as sites with the highest concentrations of Native Hawaiian cultural resources within the archipelago. These islands represent almost intact archeological sites that have become a baseline to understand and restore similar sites in the main Hawaiian Islands. The current regulatory environment enables two levels of protection. First, regulations require every vessel that enters PMNM to provide notice as they are entering and leaving, and to carry a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) that is monitored by NOAA and the U.S. Coast Guard. These measures allow for the physical protection of the site from intrusion.

In addition to protecting the site from unauthorized individuals, the regulatory regime protects the biological resources. Because of this, Nihoa and Mokumanana Islands have become a biological window to the past, representing island speciation and endemism on a scale that now only exists in a few places in the world—and also the context to understand both Native Hawaiian and Polynesian stories of migration and discovery. In particular, these islands also support investigations into traditional non-instrument navigation techniques on Native Hawaiian voyaging canoes, while the archipelago as a whole supports the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s apprentice navigator training program.

This beneficial use of PMNM resources demonstrates the strength of an approach that recognizes and preserves human connections to the monument. Whether it is maritime history or Native Hawaiian cultural practices, the PMNM has importance and significance for many—and the expansion of the monument has provided an opportunity to show how these connections make the site stronger.

CONCLUSION

The expansion of the PMNM has brought significant benefits. The larger site has drawn greater interest in its potential for science, conservation, management, culture, and history—which has, in turn, created more opportunities to partner with the external community. Together, a wide spectrum of stakeholders have pushed shared values forward to demonstrate the value of marine monuments—and through it all, the Hawai‘i Longline Fleet has brought in its highest landings in the past ten years. 

Senator Schatz’s earlier report demonstrated why the expansion was justified in the first place, and our letter to you today shows how the site has lived up to these expectations, and that no modifications to the prohibited actions within the monument are necessary.

Businesses Encouraged to Participate in Follow-Up Survey on Impact of COVID-19

The Economic Research Organization at the University of Hawaiʻi (UHERO) and Chambers of Commerce across Hawaiʻi are partnering to field a survey to study the business impact of COVID-19. The partnering Chambers include the Chamber of Commerce Hawaiʻi, Hawaiʻi Island Chamber of Commerce, Kauaʻi Chamber of Commerce and Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce. All businesses are encouraged to participate in this follow-up survey, whether or not they participated in the initial survey.

The initial survey conducted in April, found that one in four Hawaiʻi businesses anticipate closing even after receiving PPP loans. This follow-up survey measures changes in employment and employee wages, monthly revenue and revenue sources, current state of operations and plan for trans-Pacific tourism opeining, impact of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and business outlook.

“Much has changed since our last survey,” UHERO Executive Director Carl Bonham said. “The PPP program was expanded and modified, the Kamaʻaina economy has re-opened, and tourism is expected to begin a gradual re-opening next month. This survey will provide invaluable information about what businesses are experiencing on the ground and how the changing environment is affecting their expectations.” 

Businesses can take the survey on line here.

Contact Philip Garboden at UHERO with any questions at (215) 880-7715 or pgarbod@hawaii.edu.

Electric Vehicle Fast Charger Installed at Puna Kai Shopping Center

Hawaiian Electric has installed a DC fast charger for electric vehicles at the new Puna Kai Shopping Center in Pahoa. It is the sixth publicly-accessible fast charger owned and operated by Hawaiian Electric on Hawaii Island. Others are located at the company’s offices in Hilo and Kona, KTA Super Stores in Waimea Center, The Shops at Mauna Lani, and the Punaluu Bake Shop in Naalehu.

“We’re proud to partner with Puna Kai Shopping Center to open the first fast charger to serve the Puna community and those who visit there,” said Sharon Suzuki, president of the Maui County and Hawaii Island Utilities. “As more customers switch to electric vehicles, we want to support their choice with programs and options to meet their driving needs. This station is located between our fast chargers in Hilo and Naalehu and will help ease range anxiety for electric vehicle drivers who travel long distances for work or school.”

“The community of Puna is known for its widespread use of sustainable energy practices such as solar power and water catchment systems,” said Brooke Naiga, property manager. “Puna Kai Shopping Center is happy to provide a convenient charging location for the Big Island’s EV users.”

A fast charger can provide about 43 miles of additional range for a typical EV in 15 minutes. The fast charger supports CHAdeMO (used mostly by EVs like the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla with their proprietary adaptor) and CCS (used by American and European EVs like the BMW i3 and as an option on the Chevy Bolt). The unit is available during the shopping center’s current business hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Rates range from $0.51 to $0.63 per kilowatt-hour depending on time of use. Rates are lowest from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. when the most solar generation is available. Payment can be made with a major credit card or a Greenlots subscription.

Hawaiian Electric has approval from the Public Utilities Commission to operate up to 25 fast charging sites across the five-island service territory to promote electric vehicles by reducing range anxiety and making it easier for residents who cannot charge at home to own an electric vehicle. There are now 19 fast chargers on Oahu, Maui, Molokai and Hawaii Islands. Under this program, a fast charge station is installed at no cost to the property owner.

More information is at www.hawaiianelectric.com/goevgoev@hawaiianelectric.com(808) 969-0358, or Hawaiian Electric GoEV, CP10 SR, P.O. Box 2750, Honolulu, Hawaii 96840-001.

$29 Inter-Island Flight Sale

Hawaiian Airlines is offering $29 one way inter-island flights for Hawaii residents for the next 24 hours.

Click here for more information.

Ball Python Found in Hilo

 A live ball python snake was captured in Hilo early Monday morning by an American Medical Response ambulance crew. The snake, measuring about 4 feet long  and weighing about 3 pounds, was found near the Old Airport Road and taken to Hawaii County police. The police then contacted a plant quarantine inspector with the Hawai`i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) at about 2 a.m. The snake is currently being safeguarded at the Hilo Plant Quarantine Office. Staff at the Pana`ewa Rainforest Zoo determined that the snake is a sexually immature female ball python.

Ball Python found in Hilo. PC: Hawaii Department of Agriculture

On June 27, 2020 HDOA inspectors were informed of a Facebook post with a photo of a snake in that area. Quarantine inspectors conducted nightly searches through last week and also deployed traps, but were not able to find the snake. The captured snake appears to be consistent with the photo that was posted on Facebook.

In Oct. 2019, a 3-foot-long ball python was captured by a resident who ran over it near the same area.

In June 2018, a 4 ½-foot-long ball python was found at the South Hilo Sanitary Landfill by county workers.

Ball Python found in Hilo. PC: Hawaii Department of Agriculture

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

Snakes have no natural predators in Hawai`i and pose a serious threat to Hawai`i’s environment because they compete with native animal populations for food and habitat. Many species, such as the ball python, prey on birds and bird eggs, increasing the threat to our endangered native bird species. Large snakes may also be a threat to the health and safety of humans, pets and other domestic animals.

Ball Python found in Hilo. PC: Hawaii Department of Agriculture

Snakes are illegal to import and/or possess in Hawai`i. Individuals who have illegal animals are encouraged to turn them in under the amnesty program.. If illegal animals are turned in prior to the start of an investigation, no criminal charges or civil penalties will be pursued. Any illegal animal may be dropped off at any HDOA Office, local Humane Society or at municipal zoos. Animals turned in under amnesty will not be euthanized.

Individuals possessing illegal animals may be charged with a class C felony, issued fines of up to $200,000, and may be sentenced to up to five years in prison. Anyone with information on illegal animals should call the State’s toll-free PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378).