Thursday, August 18, 2016

Native Hawaiians Call for World's Largest Marine Reserve

The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument “represents a responsibility to care for the place that is our beginning,” says Uncle Sol, a native Hawaiian with a special connection to this place. The 2006 designation of this highly protected ocean habitat in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands marked the beginning of a global movement that's led to the creation of more than a dozen other large-scale marine protected areas.

With the continued threat of global overfishing and the overall decline in the health of our seas, native Hawaiians are once again working with partners like The Pew Charitable Trusts' Global Ocean Legacy program to call for an expansion of the monument to the limits of the US Exclusive Economic Zone.

Enlarging Papahānaumokuākea would again position this area as the world’s largest marine reserve and ensure a healthy ecosystem for future generations and the species that depend on it. Expansion to the limits of the U.S. exclusive economic zone would make a remarkable contribution toward reaching critical global targets for ocean conservation.

Monday, August 15, 2016


The Office of Senator Brian Schatz sent out this FAQ regarding the expansion of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument and I thought it was worth resharing.  Here is is copied and pasted below:
Q: Why expand PMNM?

A: The best scientific data available support expansion since it will strengthen the health of the Pacific Ocean and directly benefit Hawaii’s fishing industry by creating an area that protects tuna and other marine species. In fact, 1500 scientists have reviewed the proposal and signed a letter indicating that expanding PMNM will protect and expand Hawaii’s fisheries.

Q: Will local fishermen be impacted?

A: No. Local fishermen do not go as far as the proposed monument. The local small boat fleet does not fish west of 163W Longitude so this proposal would have no impact on these fishers, and that is why Kauai Senator Ron Kouchi has publicly announced his support for the proposal.

Q: Will the proposal impact Hawaii’s longliners?

A: Not significantly. Hawaii’s longliners fish primarily for big eye tuna (ahi) in United States and international waters. That fishery is governed by an international tuna treaty that provides a strict quota, or maximum, of 3,554 metric tons. Of that quota amount, the longliners currently catch only about 5% in the proposed expansion area.

The Hawaii-based longline industry has had no difficulty in catching fish, and the expansion of the monument will not change that. In fact, in the past several years, the longliners have fished the maximum allowable amount for the year at increasingly earlier dates. In 2015, the longliners used up their quota on August 5. This year, the longliners used up their quota by July 22. Thus, it is the quota set by international treaty and not the size of the PMNM that annually disrupts the supply of ahi to local businesses and residents.

Q: Where will the longliners catch the 5% of the ahi that they currently catch in the proposed expansion area?

A: The longliners will catch ahi in the international and U.S. waters that will remain open, and are currently their preferred fishing areas.

Q: Will ahi be more expensive?

There is no credible economic evidence to support this claim. The only potential additional cost to fishermen with the proposed expansion is a possible increase in fuel. Remember that the longliners are permitted to catch the same amount of fish, they just may not do so in the Monument. Other costs to catch fish would remain the same. Fisheries science proves there is no evidence to suggest that the price of bigeye tuna will increase if expansion occurs. It is a global market, and the price of tuna is mostly set by the market in Japan, where 80% of all sashimi-grade sushi is consumed.

Q: Will Hawaii economically benefit if President Obama expands PMNN?

A: Yes. Hawaii stands to directly benefit from tourism, conferences, and research opportunities related to the expansion of PMNM. As an example, this year, Honolulu hosted the International Coral Reef Symposium in July, which resulted in approximately $9.4 million in visitor related spending. In September, Honolulu will host the World Conservation Congress, which will result in approximately $37.7 million in visitor spending and $3.6 million in tax revenues.


A thoughtful expansion of the PMNM will continue Hawaii’s long history of sustainable use of the land and oceans into the future, and help ensure that we can give our children the legacy of a healthy, vibrant Pacific Ocean. The PMNM also holds special significance for Native Hawaiians, and Governor David Ige has requested that OHA become a co-trustee for the PMNM, along with the Department of Commerce, the Department of the Interior, and the State of Hawaii.

Star Advertiser Editorial: Larger Marine Preserve Makes Sense 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Donald Trump on Sharks

These tweets from Donald Trump are getting attention this week thanks to the keen eye of David Shiffman down at the University of Miami. I wonder what happened on July 4, 2013 that inspired these? Sad.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Make Your Own Bycatch Beach

Bycatch Beach in Maui
Two hundred and fifty thousands sharks have been caught by longline fishing vessels in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in the last 25 years -- about 10,000 sharks per year.  A smaller, but not insignificant number of seabirds, turtles, whales, and dolphins are also caught as "bycatch."  Bycatch are animals that are caught when you are fishing for something else, in the case of Hawaii, the fishermen are targeting bigeye tuna.  Some of the bycatch has value, like other species of tuna or mahi mahi, but many species are protected or have no economic value and have to be thrown back in the water, even if they are dead or dying.

In an attempt to highlight the threat of bycatch to otherwise protected or managed ecosystems, several conservationists in Hawaii including members of 808 cleanups, put together an art project called "Bycatch Beach."  They cut out silhouettes of some of the species caught as bycatch in Hawaii and displayed them to represent the amounts based on data from the government.

Bycatch Beach in Oahu
Bycatch Beach has been displayed in Oahu and Maui, with plans for more displays in coming weeks.

Do you want to do something similar with your club, organization, or classroom?  This is a really fun, easy to do project that is visually compelling.  We don't want to give you too many instructions (it's an art project after all), but all you need to do is make silhouettes on colored paper (photocopies are going to be your friend), cut them out, tape or glue them to popsicle sticks, and then find an interesting place to stick them in the ground.  In Hawaii, that's the beach!

Bycatch Beach cutouts.  It's really simple!
If you are doing this with a class, the students should spend some time learning about bycatch, what species are affected, and how much occurs in your country.  For the United States, all bycatch data is available on the NOAA website.  If you live somewhere else, you could contact your government, or simply use global data.  For example, 100 million sharks are killed each year.

Have fun!  And if you decide to try this project out, take lots of photos and please tag us on Twitter!

Bycatch Beach event in Guam

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