Maui News

Second lawsuit filed by environmental groups to protect Hawaiian petrels at Maui resort  

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ʻUaʻu (Hawaiian petrel). File photo Courtesy Haleakalā National Park.

A coalition of conservation groups today filed a second lawsuit to protect endangered Hawaiian petrels (ʻuaʻu) from lights at the Grand Wailea Resort on Maui. Today’s lawsuit was filed by Earthjustice on behalf of Conservation Council for Hawaiʻi and the Center for Biological Diversity.

Two years ago, the groups finalized a settlement agreement with the resort requiring it to implement lighting modification measures to minimize harm to the birds as they navigate between breeding colonies at Haleakalā and the ocean. The groups argue: “migrating birds continue to be attracted to, and harmed by, the resort’s artificial lights.”

“Two years ago, we agreed to take a wait-and-see approach to assess whether lighting changes at the resort could stop the Grand Wailea from continuing to harm critically endangered petrels, but it didn’t,” said Maxx Phillips, Hawai‘i director at the Center for Biological Diversity in a news release announcement.


The environmental groups say the bright resort lights have disoriented the fledgling petrels as they leave their nests and migrate to sea. Since the settlement was reached in October 2022, three grounded fledglings have been discovered at the resort, including one that broke its wing after colliding with a wall, according to the joint news release.

A spokesperson at Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort responded to Maui Now’s request for comment saying: “We are disappointed by Earthjustice’s decision to file a new lawsuit while we are engaging in good faith settlement discussions. Grand Wailea is wholeheartedly committed to protecting and nurturing Maui’s rich biodiversity, which is why we have worked tirelessly alongside local experts to implement best-in-class measures to ensure the safety of these seabirds. We have been and will continue to act in full accordance with the terms set forth in our earlier agreement.”

“The Endangered Species Act flatly prohibits the Grand Wailea from harming a single Hawaiian petrel unless it first secures and then complies with a permit to ensure its activities will not push the species closer to extinction,” said Earthjustice attorney Leinā‘ala Ley.


Jonee Peters, Executive Director of Conservation Council for Hawai‘i said, “Hawaiian petrels have great cultural significance, helping guide our ancestors to find fish to feed their families. We need to do everything we can to ensure they are around for future generations.”

Today’s lawsuit was filed in the federal district court in Honolulu.


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