Marine and Coastal Issues:

Our marine and coastal areas face numerous threats from both land and ocean activities, especially from non-point source pollution entering coastal waters.  Many nearshore coral reefs are impacted by runoff from land and invasive seaweeds. Kupuna tell us that fish populations are much lower than those they knew as children.  Some large scale open ocean aquaculture projects now operate in coastal waters, with additional projects on the way. The recently adopted National Ocean Policy promotes the concept of coastal and marine spatial planning to cope with competing uses proposed for those areas, including decisions for siting of open ocean aquaculture and renewable energy facilities. The effects of climate change introduce a new set of challenges for promoting the resiliency of ecosystems and human communities.  These effects include increasing sea temperatures causing coral bleaching, coastal erosion due to rising sea levels, and acidification of the ocean as increasing levels of carbon dioxide are absorbed.

Key Bills:

Bills introduced so far include those which would:

  • increase the number of Marine Life Conservation Districts statewide
  • raise thresholds for exempting projects from Special Management Area permits
  • ban expansion of existing open ocean finfish aquaculture (mariculture) operations
  • establish an ocean zoning pilot project for Maunaula Bay on Oahu
  • place additional controls on taking and sale of aquarium fish, and increase penalties for collecting without an aquarium fish permit
  • revise water quality standards legislatively
  • ban shark feeding
  • impose a two-year construction moratorium along Kailua beach on Oahu
  • set bag and size limits for uhu (parrotfish) and goatfish in Maui County
  • increase funding for environmental enforcement by a gross excise tax on commercial uses of ocean resources.

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Legislative Tracker

Below is the legislative tracker for all of the Marine and Coastal bills introduced at the 2011 Legislature. You can view the status updates as well as a list of other organizations that might be active in supporting or opposing these bills.