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What’s happening in Hawai’i?

February 09 2010 | Beach access, Jim's Blog,
by Jim

The following are a few of the campaigns under way in Hawai'i. As always, the best way to plug in is via our chapter network. Local Hawaiian chapters: Maui, Oahu, Kauai and Kona

Keep the Country Country!
(Preserving special places)

Because tourism is the largest industry in Hawaii, developers are constantly looking for new places to build resorts, hotels and luxury condos. At our recent Hawaii Chapters Conference, more than 30 representatives from the Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the Big Island chapters discussed our previous successes and the ongoing battles in our Preserving Special Places Campaign.

Surfrider was instrumental in helping to stop big commercial developments at Pupukea-Paumalu (Sunset Beach), Waimea Valley and Kakaako Beach Park in Honolulu. For the last few years, our main focus has been working with other environmental groups to Keep the Country Country and stop the Turtle Bay Resort’s massive expansion plans. The Oahu chapter filed an Amicus Brief in a lawsuit challenging the resort’s right to build 5 more hotels and 1000 more luxury condo units to the North Shore based on a 25-year old EIS. We are currently supporting a bill to limit the shelf-life for EIS statements, while planning rallies to educate people about the issue. The Hawaii Chapters are working to preserve world-class breaks at Honolua Bay and Ma’alaea on Maui, Pine Trees on the Big Island and Hanalei Bay from more commercial development.

GOAL: Promote responsible development of Hawaii’s pristine coastlines and stop environmentally destructive development projects.

MORE: Here and here.

Keep Our Beaches Open and Accessible
(Beach access)

Although all beaches in Hawaii are open to the public, access is restricted in some locations by the development of hotels, condominiums, and private homes on beachfront properties. On all islands, access has been guaranteed by traditional public easements, but these are under constant threat of loss or restrictions. In response to the increasingly limited access to beaches in these areas, the Oahu Chapter helped formed a coalition called Beach Access Hawaii: On Groundhog Day, 2008, the Coalition organized demonstrations to demand more beach access, and a trolley of Surfrider activists traveled to many of the contested areas and then brought their message back to the state capitol. Currently, the Oahu chapter is supporting SB1088, a state bill that would help prevent property owners from obstructing beach access by “creating a private right of action” to challenge those who block access.

GOAL: Ensure public access to Hawaii’s beaches and oceans through legislation and education.

MORE: Here.

Keep It Blue!
(Water quality)

Ocean water quality is one of Surfrider’s highest priorities. Hawai’s chapters have volunteer water quality experts on each island, and their committees monitor threats to our oceans from sewage spills, injection wells, septic tanks and storm water runoff. After the Ala Wai sewage spill in 2006, the Oahu Chapter set up a Wastewater Spill Committee to mitigate the damage and prevent future spills. With the recent budget cuts and layoffs of water quality monitors, our chapters are doing our own testing and working with the state’s Cleanwater Branch and other environmental groups to protect our near-shore waters.

GOAL: Monitor water quality across Hawaii and educate people about the sources of pollution.


Keep Our Oceans Clean!
(Rise above plastics)

The Hawaii chapters are working with Surfrider National to educate people about the environmental dangers and health hazards of plastic marine debris. Each year, more than 52 metric tons of plastic marine debris are removed from the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. Worldwide, the debris kills more than one million sea birds and over a hundred thousand marine mammals due to entanglement and ingestion. Surfrider’s Hawaii Chapters are working with a coalition of community groups and legislators to pass a ban or fee on single-use plastic bags to reduce the proliferation of plastic marine debris. The Kauai Chapter has already helped pass a ban on plastic bags through their County Council. Across the state, the chapters schedule monthly beach cleanups to restore Hawaii’s shorelines to their natural beauty and educate people about the issues of marine debris, beach access, water quality and responsible coastal development.

GOAL: Educate people about the dangers of plastic marine debris and help stop the proliferation of single-use plastic bags and bottles across Hawaii.

MORE: Here.
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