Good News! The Hawaii state legislature failed to pass the anti-green sea turtle resolutions this week that were opposed by Hawai'i conservationists and SeaTurtles.org members and supporters.
"We had over 140 testimonies against the reso. It's a good day for the honu," reported Robert Wintner of the Snorkel Bob Foundation. The resolution urging the Feds to delist the honu died because it was "too controversial, not enough data and there was no Senate companion reso."
The grassroots effort was organized by Marjorie Ziegler, Executive Director of the Conservation Council of Hawaii. SeaTurtles.org volunteer and avid diver Kimberly G. spoke out to protect
the green turtles at the hearing in the Hawaii State Capitol.
While we have won this round, it is only the beginning of a campaign to defend the honu. Longline fishery managers have joined forces with people who want to start hunting green sea turtles for their meat to seek removal of protections for the popular "honu" of Hawaii under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. While green sea turtle populations have increased steadily since they were protected from hunting and bycatch in longline fisheries, the Hawaiian honus are far from reaching recovery goals of 5,000 nesters per year. The average number is 400 to 500 per year since 2002.
The Hawaii state legislature this week considered passage of resolutions supporting delisting of the green sea turtles at the instigation of the fishing industry and hunters. The resolutions are in support of a petition to the U.S. government filed on February 14, 2012, by the Hawaii Civic Association, a front group for Kitty Simonds of the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council.
SeaTurtles.org is joining Hawaiian conservation groups in opposing HR 87 and HR 61 at the public hearing on Thursday, April 12, 2012, by the Committee on Water, Land and Ocean Resources. Take Action here.
SeaTurtles.org opposes this resolution for the following reasons:
1. The Hawaiian green sea turtle has not met recovery goals under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
2. Threats to the survival and recovery of Hawaiian green sea turtles from human activities are increasing, not decreasing.
3. As a result of the facts above, statements in the resolutions are inaccurate.
4. The resolutions are premature given pending actions by National Marine Fisheries in response to a petition to the U.S. government submitted on February 14, 2012, seeking federal actions related to the Hawaii green turtle under the Endangered Species Act.
Download SeaTurtles.org full comments in a PDF here.
Download the Hawaii House Resolution 87 (same as 61) here.
To submit your own testimony, go here.
Read the Testimony from the Conservation Council of Hawai'i below:
• We oppose HCR 87 and HR 61, which urge the federal government to establish a distinct population segment of the green sea turtle in Hawai’i, remove the honu from the threatened species list, and actively manage the species (meaning allow taking of the species).
• We do not think honu populations have recovered to the point of being removed from the threatened species list, and will be monitoring and participating in the ongoing federal process relating to distinct population segments and delisting.
• There are too many major threats to the long-term survival of the green sea turtle globally and in Hawai’i, including the loss of nesting beaches resulting from sea level rise, invasive algae, disease, interactions with fishing gear, ingestion of and entanglement with marine debris, ocean acidification, and coral bleaching. These threats have not been eliminated nor mitigated in any significant way.
• This is not a popularity contest for and against delisting the honu. The determination to establish a distinct population segment and change the status of a threatened or an endangered species must be rigorous, based on the best available scientific and other information, and free of political interference. In the absence of certainty, the precautionary principle must also apply, especially when determining the fate of an imperiled species in a warming world.
• We do not agree with claims in HCR 87 and HR 61 that “scientific studies as well as reports by Native Hawaiian lawaia (cultural practitioners of fishing) have concluded that the honu is approaching full recovery and that the environment and ecosystem are suffering from the current over-protection, over-population, and lack of management of honu.” We request copies (or titles, authors, and dates) of these studies and reports if this committee is willing to share them, and we will share them with others, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, and Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources.
• Rather than adopt these resolutions – which include assertions about the honu’s recovery in the absence of supporting data and habitat analyses – we urge you to monitor and participate in the ongoing federal process as we are. Please oppose HCR 87 and HR 1.
• Mahalo nui loa for the opportunity to testify.