Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thank you, Governor Benigno R. Fitial

Remarks of Governor Benigno R. Fitial
Signing of HB 17-94 (Shark Fin Prohibition Act)
Thursday, January 27, 2011 - 9 AM
Office of the Governor

Hafa adai, tirow, and good morning.

Today I am pleased to sign House Bill 17-94 (Shark Fin Prohibition Act) into law. This bill represents our islands' proactive approach to prevent the destruction of the shark population.

In this day and age, we have become more familiar with the emerging issues that involve our ocean environment. Climate change, ocean acidification, overfishing, and pollution have caused considerable damage to our oceanic resources in recent years. It is clear that strong and effective measures are needed to combat and eliminate these trends.

We have seen much progress in preventing overfishing, minimizing "bycatch" and protecting fish stocks and habitats.

However, there is still room to do more. Our economy and our cultural traditions are influenced by the wonders of the sea. That is why we recognize that the protection of our marine environment is not simply a matter of just managing fish and other aquatic life. Rather, they are a matter of survival and sustainability.

By way of our geographic outlay, our islands are wholly surrounded by the treasures of the underwater world. Our marine ecosystems are one of our greatest natural assets. So to ensure the sustainability of our natural wealth, we have already taken steps to initiate and institute a number of measures, including the creation of marine protected areas, coral reef monitoring, and educational outreach programs to teach our people about the importance of conservation.  Now, with the implementation of the Shark Fin Prohibition Act, we can add protecting the animals at the top of the marine food chain -- sharks -- to that list.

Sharks are now some of the ocean's most vulnerable and in some cases, most depleted species. They are slow growing, reach sexual maturity late, produce few offspring, and their populations have not been able to pace with the onslaught of fishermen targeting their fins for use in shark fin soup.

Today, we proudly follow suit behind Palau's creation of a shark sanctuary in 2009, Hawaii's law banning all shark products in 2010, and President Obama's enactment of the Shark Conservation Act just this past January 4th.

Thus, Lt. Governor Inos and I thank you all for being here today to witness the signing of this landmark legislation for our Commonwealth.

Olomwaay, si yu'os ma'ase', and thank you.

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