Maui News

What four measures did Hawaiʻi Gov. Ige sign on World Oceans Day?

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Hawaiʻi Gov. David Ige signed four measures into law that protect ocean resources in a ceremony at the Kupu Hoʻokupu Center at Kewalo Basin on Oʻahu.

On the 30th anniversary of international World Oceans Day, Hawaiʻi Gov. David Ige signed four measures into law that protect aquatic resources.

The bills include:

  • Authorization of a pilot carrying capacity study for the Pūpūkea Marine Life Conservation District on O‘ahu’s North Shore
  • Establishment of tiered administrative fines to strengthen penalties for aquatic resource violations
  • Funding for fish aggregation devices
  • Authorizing in-lieu fee mitigation to restore damaged aquatic habitats or resources

In 2016, at the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s World Conservation Congress, Hawaiʻi launched the Holomua Marine 30 x 30 Initiative that calls for the effective management of Hawaiʻi’s nearshore waters with 30% established as marine management areas by the year 2030.


“These four new laws, collectively, along with previous measures, certainly bring us much closer to realizing that goal over the next eight years,” Gov. Ige said during remarks at the Kupu Hoʻokupu Center at Kewalo Basin.

Suzanne Case, Chair of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), applauded the Ige Administration and state lawmakers for proactively addressing the threats facing the ocean during this time of global climate change.

“We all know how critical our nearshore ocean waters are to life in Hawai‘i,” she said.
“While there’s still much work to accomplish, and there is certainly urgency due to global warming, these laws will help Hawai‘i get closer to its overall goal of effectively managing as much of our ocean waters and its resources as possible in the face of unprecedented natural and human-generated threats.”


Key purposes of each bill signed today, according to a DLNR news release :

  • HB 1653 (Act 035): Strengthens aquatic resource penalties to increase compliance, to ensure just, reasonable and effective punishment for violations. Establishes a flexible, tiered administrative fine system.
  • SB 2767 (Act 034): Provides funds to DLNR to support the deployment, replacement and maintenance of fish aggregation devices (FADs), which are an important resource for fishers to target productive and sustainable fisheries like mahi mahi and ono. Missing FADs can result in less fish for consumption and increased operational costs for fishers. On average, about 15 FADs go missing each year.
  • SB 3330 (Act 031): Establishes a three-year pilot program to assess the carrying capacity of certain areas within the Pūpūkea Marine Life Conservation District (MLCD), in light of threats to marine life from people. Directs monitoring, documentation and assessment of effectiveness of mandatory and voluntary closures of high traffic areas in the MLCD.
  • SB 204 (Act 032): Gives DLNR the legal authority to use in-lieu fee mitigation to restore, create, enhance and preserve aquatic habitats or resources as compensatory mitigation to offset unavoidable adverse impacts from incidents like ship groundings.

Gov. Ige also signed into law SB2768 (Act 033), which directs DLNR to administer or enter into an agreement for the administration of a green jobs youth corps to provide temporary work and training opportunities in the fields of natural resource management, agriculture or other sustainability‑related professions to young adults 26 and younger.

The nonprofit Kupu provides many of the interns who work in various DLNR divisions, including the Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR). Kupu workers have been engaged in the division’s alien invasive species, urchin hatchery and coral nursery teams. Several workers also have advanced into civil service positions following their internship, said DAR Administrator Brian Neilson.


“This is a great day for the furtherance of ocean protections here in Hawai‘i,” Neilson said. “To now have the opportunity to expose more young people to the vital nature of protecting our lands and waters is a real win on this World Oceans Day, and further cements Hawai‘i’s reputation as a leader in conservation, mauka to makai.”


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