Maui outdoor lighting ordinance victory for seabirds, turtles
In a victory for seabirds and turtles, Maui approved an ordinance regulating the amount of blue light that outdoor lighting fixtures can emit on the island.
The ordinance was supported by the Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Council of Hawai‘i and Earthjustice. The groups say the measure will help endangered sea turtles and Hawaiian petrels.
“I’m thrilled that Maui is taking this bold and important step to protect our endangered seabirds and sea turtles,” said Maxx Phillips, Hawai‘i director and staff attorney at the Center. “I hope more islands take note and pass similar measures to protect the unique animals that make Hawai‘i so special.”
Bill 21 amends Maui County’s lighting ordinance to increase protections for Hawai‘i’s threatened and endangered seabirds and sea turtles by requiring outdoor light fixtures to limit blue light. Artificial lights regularly attract and disorient birds and turtles, leading to injuries and death. The bill also prevents outdoor lighting from shining upward or over the ocean, and eliminates reflective surfaces that bounce light skyward.
“For more than a decade, Hawai‘i Island has had a similar limit on the amount of blue light that its businesses and government facilities can emit,” said Earthjustice attorney David Henkin. “These are commonsense, practical steps that we can — and must — take to protect Hawai‘i’s imperiled species.”
Reducing light pollution will help threatened and endangered species recover, organization leaders said. “The bill also provides a clear blueprint for businesses and oceanfront residences, and addresses reasonable concerns raised by members of the public,” advocates said.
It will be phased in over three years.