The Department of Land and Natural Resources should have conducted environmental reviews before issuing aquarium fish collecting permits, environmental groups and several Hawaii residents say in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Oahu’s 1st Circuit Court.
Earthjustice, the Conservation Council for Hawaii, the Humane Society of the United States and the Center for Biological Diversity joined with Maui resident Rene Umberger, Milolii residents Kaimi Kaupiko and Willie Kaupiko, and West Hawaii resident and business owner Mike Nakachi to file the complaint. The complaint seeks a declaratory judgment ordering the state to perform reviews under the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act. The plaintiffs say the act applies to the permits because they regulate an activity that happens within state waters.
“DLNR has never examined under HEPA the impacts of issuing permits allowing fish and invertebrate collection for the aquarium trade on the scale that has been occurring, yet in its 1998 State of the Reefs Report, the agency admitted that, ‘studies to characterize the effects of removal of reef fish on the coral reef ecosystem are necessary if this activity is to continue,’” the complaint said.
Umberger said the best possible outcome for the lawsuit, which she said should not result in lengthy court proceedings, is an order for the department to undertake the review.
Maui News staff writer Harry Eagar’s Nov. 15 column expressed unfounded opinions that trivialized a serious community issue. Sewage disposal is no laughing matter. It is a quality of life issue for all who live on Maui, our visitor industry and those voiceless ones who inhabit Maui’s waters.
Concerns about the connection between effluent disposal, water quality and reef decline are shared by scientists and environmental professionals tasked with safeguarding water and natural resources. The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Aquatic Resources (hawaii.gov/dlnr/dar/pubs/MauiReefDeclines.pdf) identified land-based pollutants as part of the problem causing coal decline. The Environmental Protection Agency ordered Maui County to characterize the pollutants in the effluent and to identify where the effluent goes after injection. The state Department of Health has declared coastal waters near the wells as impaired due to presence of nutrients and other pollutants (hawaii.gov/health/environmental/env-planning/wqm/2006_Integrated_Report/2006_Chapter_IV_Assessment_of_Waters.pdf).
There is substantial evidence that the effluents injected into the groundwater at county treatment plants is reaching the ocean. The presence of effluent indicators in ocean water was found by the University of Hawaii and the U.S. Geological Survey. There is no scientific evidence supporting Eagar’s assertion that coral not only eat sewage, but love it.
The state Board of Land and Natural Resources on Friday is to take up the issue of coral reef damage at the Keawakapu artificial reef off Maui.
The Division of Aquatic Resources staff is to report on an assessment of the damage that occurred last Dec. 2.
The state initially reported that it appeared about 50 concrete slabs hit the reef.
But federal report says 125 slabs accidentally landed on live coral habitat during a state project to enhance the artificial reef.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the rest of the 1,400 modules weighing 2,800 pounds each landed on sand.
Friday’s meeting is to be held at Maui County’s Department of Planning
Who knew algae had such depth?
A research team from the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, led by University of Hawaii doctoral student Daniel Wagner, has discovered a photosynthetic algae called symbiodinium at ocean depths of nearly 1,300 feet, roughly twice as deep as any previous finding.
The algae, which were found on samples of black coral species around Hawaii, are commonly associated with shallow-water, reef-building corals, which rely on the algae for nutrients. However, symbiodinium, which requires sunlight to photosynthesize, had not been detected below 656 feet before and typically lives in depths of about 130 feet.
Wagner said the algae was found in very low densities, suggesting that it was not a likely nutrient source for the black coral. He said it was possible that the algae found on the black coral was dormant, dying or possibly feeding off of the coral.
“But it’s only a guess at this point,” said Wagner, 28 “As is usually the case, you uncover one thing and it leads to 10 new questions.”
DOHA – THE UN wildlife trade body on Sunday was to debate controls on commerce in precious coral, harvested in the Mediterranean and the western Pacific and then crafted into jewellery mainly in Italy.
With finished necklaces retailing for up to US$25,000 (S$34,970), red and pink coral is among the world’s most expensive wildlife commodities.
A proposal to list the deep-water, reef-forming organism under Appendix II of the Conference on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), meeting in Doha until Thursday, would require nations to track exports and show that coral is extracted sustainably. Co-sponsored by the United States and the European Union, the move is opposed by Japan, which last week lobbied successfully to shoot down a bid to ban trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna.
The new measure targets seven species in the Coralliidae family, one growing in the Mediterranean and the others in the western Pacific, including Hawaii.
Destroyed by rising carbon levels, acidity, pollution, algae, bleaching and El Niño, coral reefs require a dramatic change in our carbon policy to have any chance of survival
Animal, vegetable and mineral, a pristine tropical coral reef is one of the natural wonders of the world. Bathed in clear, warm water and thick with a psychedelic display of fish, sharks, crustaceans and other sea life, the colourful coral ramparts that rise from the sand are known as the rainforests of the oceans.
And with good reason. Reefs and rainforests have more in common than their beauty and bewildering biodiversity. Both have stood for millions of years, and yet both are poised to disappear.