Headlines – News – Articles
30th November, 2011

Former Governor rejects proposed habitat protections

Media Watch, News Release, Lingle US Senate 2012, 29 November 2011

HONOLULU – Former Governor Linda Lingle sent a letter today to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration regarding their proposed rule to designate the main Hawaiian Islands as a critical habitat for the Hawaiian Monk Seal.

She released the following statement:

“A recent proposal by the Federal Government to make 4,787 square miles of land and water in Hawaii a federal critical habitat is another example of government over-reach and insensitivity to the concerns of the people of this State.

“I am calling upon the federal Department of the Interior to postpone this action until such time as the economic and social consequences to the people of Hawaii are fully understood and addressed.

“While I support efforts to protect and preserve endangered species, such as the Hawaiian Monk Seal, these efforts should be carried out with a sensitivity to the people and activities they impact. And they should be based on extensive public input and solid economic and scientific data.

“The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is proposing to designate almost the entire coastlines and surrounding waters of Oahu, Hawaii, Maui, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, Niihau and Kahoolawe as a critical habitat for monk seals. The designation would include the shorelines up to 16 feet inland and the oceans out to a depth of 1,640 feet. The total area would cover 4,787 square miles. To put this into perspective, the entire State of Hawaii is 6,459 square miles. The habitat would be equal to almost 75% of the size of our State.

“NOAA published their proposed rule last June in a Federal publication that few citizens read (The Federal Register). They gave the public only 60 days to respond to a proposed rule that could last for over 50 years. Only after receiving letters from elected officials who were alerted by concerned fishermen, native Hawaiian groups, and community activists, did NOAA agree to re-open the public comment period.

“As the former Governor of the State of Hawaii, I am concerned about the potential adverse impacts this rule could have on such important activities as clean energy projects (such as wave energy, ocean-thermal energy, and seawater air conditioning), aquaculture, fishing, military activities, harbor improvements and near-shore construction (including airports modernization and highway reconstruction). NOAA’s economic report acknowledges that insufficient information currently exists to measure the financial impacts on these activities.

“NOAA also acknowledges the monk seal population has been declining in those areas where the critical habitat designation has been in place for over 20 years (the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands) but the seal population has been increasing where no designation is in place (the main Hawaiian islands).

“These proposed rules are yet another example of the ‘one size fits all’ approach from the Federal Government in Washington, D.C. I believe it is essential that we put People First and find solutions that allow the seal population to increase without adversely harming humans.

“Given the large size of the proposed habitat designation, the extended length of time it could be in place, the fact that the seals are doing better in the main islands without a habitat designation and that most of the economic impacts have not been quantified, I am calling upon NOAA and its parent agency, the Department of the Interior, to postpone action on their rule-making until such time as the economic and social consequences to the people of Hawaii are fully understood and addressed.”

Source: Statement on Proposed Federal Monk Seal Critical Habitat Designation in Hawaii, News Release, Lingle US Senate 2012, 29 November 2011


1 comment to Former Governor rejects proposed habitat protections

  • Sherron Bull

    Our wing nut former governor — a Republican, the only one in a long history of Democratic Hawaiian governors in our state — is resorting to her usual half-truths and outright lies in trying to wrest protection from the Hawaiian Monk Seal. She ignores the facts and throws out numerous misleading and false statements. I wonder whose pockets she has her hands in now? Oh right, the commercial fisheries and others commercial endeavors who don’t want to be bothered with 1,000 little Monk Seals — like they don’t want to be bothered with anything else they perceive as restricting their activities.

    The current “critical habitat area” needs to be changed because the current one is NOT working. Lingle states the obvious, but can’t see the truth — it is not working in the NW Hawaiian Islands because it is not extensive enough & does not actually even contain the main area where the Monk Seals dive for food. Nat Geo researchers have found they don’t hunt in the coral reefs, but in desert-like areas with only rocks & sand, deeper than anyone previously knew, where the seals flip over the occasional rock for the fish hiding beneath them — not someplace any commercial fisherman is going to be doing any fishing unless he doesn’t know what he is doing!!

    Only 1 in 5 pups lives to a year old and many of them starve to death. They have started coming to the main Hawaiian Islands because there is more food and their pups can actually grow up. But we have idiots in Hawaii just like in the Medeterranean and 3 of our seals have been killed in the last 1-1/2 weeks. With only about 1,000 seals remaining, we can’t afford to lose ANY of them, certainly not to morons who feel it is their god-given right to kill anything they want for whatever reason they feel like. Their habitat needs to be expanded to protect them in the main islands and to cover the areas where they actually feed.

    Contrary to Lingle’s assertions, all the native Hawaiian groups I know support the Monk Seals, as do almost every non-commercial group I have encountered. The only ones I’ve heard speaking out against the seals — and make no mistake, they are against the SEALS themselves — are commercial people who care more about their $$$ than any animal, no matter how threatened. So they will say anything and everything to get their way, no matter how much of a lie or misleading it is.

    Let’s face it, our Hawaiian Islands including the NW Hawaiian area covers a lot of space. There are thousands upon thousands of fishermen and commercial companies — and only about 1,000 seals (minus the 3 just killed). How much impact can they have?

    And the law applies to the Federal Government; it does not stop people using the beach or oceans, fishing, or other activities. If something requires Federal Government approval, then they can be impacted — but they already are for many other reasons. To pin this all on our seals is an outrage.

    Grow up children. The Monk Seals have been here long before we humans and they deserve their home here. Far more than some humans, that’s for sure. :(

    Butt out, Lingle, and go back into retirement — where the voters of Hawaii sent you. And for good reason.

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