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Tuesday, May 02, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Tuesday, May 2, 2023

The Nature Conservancy is working to reduce the number of Fish Aggregation Devices
that drift in the open ocean and often wind up on reefs. Photo from TNC

IT'S WORLD TUNA DAY AND THE NATURE CONSERVANCY HAS AN ANNOUNCEMENT.  The Nature Conservancy Hawai'i & Palmyra is expanding the first drifting Fish Aggregation Device partnership with commercial purse seine tuna vessels in the Pacific Ocean. The partnership formally began in June 2021 with the U.S. Pacific Purse Seine Tuna Group; the Cape Fisheries fleet joined. In 2023, it more than doubled in size with the addition of the Spanish Pacific Asociaicón de Grandes Atuneros Congeladores purse seine fleet.
    "We commend the purse seine industry partners for their commitment to TNC and this conservation action by covering many costs of the program and approving crucial amendments to the scientific data being collected from their fishing devices," said Kydd Pollock, Pelagic Conservation Strategy Lead for TNC.

dFAD in the water at Palmyra Atoll. Photo from TNC
   Pollock has been working on Palmyra Atoll, located 1,000 miles south of Honolulu, removing dFADs from its reefs, lagoons and beaches since 2008. He developed the partnership to enhance the protection of marine resources within the Pacific Remote Marine National Monument around Palmyra Atoll.
Fishery Improvement Projects coordinator, Bill Sardina, of the U.S. Pacific Tuna Group, said, "The U.S. Pacific Tuna Group appreciates the opportunity to work with TNC on the Palmyra FAD Watch Program and its relationship we have developed over the past few years. We recognize the benefits of working with trusted partners that collect scientific data on drifting FADs with the goal that our participation will lead to better FAD management and contribute to the sustainability and viability of the fishery in the Pacific Region."

    The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission reported an estimated value of the total tuna catch to be $4.6 billion, with the purse seine fleets accounting for approximately 56% of that in 2021. The Western and Central Pacific Ocean, where Palmyra Atoll is located, is home to the world's largest tropical tuna purse seine fishery, numbering at 262 vessels in 2021.
    Purse seine fishers legally use dFADs to aggregate valuable schools of tuna. The floating raft structures are made from durable material such as bamboo, floats, nylon netting and PVC pipes, fitted with a satellite buoy that incorporates an echo sounder that conveys location and fish abundance. The devices float across the ocean with the currents, letting commercial fishers know where to go for their best chance of securing a catch.
   Approximately 30-40,000 dFADs are deployed across the Pacific annually with around 7-10% drifting away from productive fishing grounds where retrieval is not cost effective. Those that enter the waters around Palmyra Atoll can damage the fragile coral reef ecosystem if not intercepted prior to grounding. Through a relationship built on trust and common goals, the commercial fishing partners share location from the dFADs with TNC, allowing TNC to recover any dFADs that threaten to impact Palmyra's coral reefs.

Pulling in a drifting Fish Aggregating Device.
Photo from The Nature Conservancy
    "Cape Fisheries is very grateful to be a member of this ongoing effort between the U.S. flagged purse seine vessels and TNC," says Beth Vanden Heuvel, Director of Scientific Operations for Cape Fisheries. "The fishing industry is continuously looking for ways to improve the sustainability of our operations, so the opportunity to build these types of partnerships is invaluable. The project's success thus far is a wonderful example of the win-win scenarios that can result from collaborations between scientists and the industry."
    Tracking the dFADs also provides important scientific data about fish biomass inside and outside the PRIMNM. This data is especially important because the area has been largely unstudied.
    "AGAC is committed to the best FAD management and has demonstrated this for many years through pioneering the FAD Watch project in the Seychelles, Indian Ocean since 2017," says Julio Moron, PhD, Managing Director of AGAC. "We are very happy to engage with TNC in the Pacific for this FAD Watch project at Palmyra Atoll. We frankly believe that FAD geofencing is a practical and effective way to prevent adverse dFAD effects on vulnerable marine ecosystems," he says.
TNC is working to transform tuna fisheries worldwide for 
food security and sustainable fishing. TNC photo

    The latest development within the program is the repurposing of dFAD satellite buoys collected at Palmyra and attaching them to local anchored FADs (aFADs) for a TNC-led Pacific Island community artisanal fishing project in Micronesia.
    "Many Micronesian fishing communities we work with want to shift their fishing effort from coastal coral reef fisheries to pelagic (deep water) resources to improve local food security," says Alex Filous PhD, TNC Director of Sustainable Fisheries Micronesia and Polynesia. The echosounder buoys help local fishers focus their fishing efforts when increased concentrations of tuna are around their aFADs. "It's nice to see the fishing industry willing to support this initiative and give this technology back to these communities," says Filous.
    "The future in this space between sustainable fishing and environmental awareness is exciting and it can't happen without all user groups working together to conserve precious ocean resources," Pollock says.

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HAWAI'I WILDLIFE FUND OFFERS SCHOLARSHIPS FOR KA'U HIGH STUDENTS AND RECENT GRADUATES looking to pursue their passions in college or a career technical school. Preferences will be given to high school seniors, but juniors and recent graduates may apply. Applicants must live in or go to school in Kaʻū, or have other relevant ties to this moku.
    The application form is relatively simple (link HERE) and requires submission of a one-page essay (400-500 words recommended) focusing on a favorite native wildlife species (plant or animal) that lives in or transits through Kaʻū.    
    Bonus points will be given for describing how the applicant and others can help protect the favorite wildlife species, and why the plant or animal is important to Hawaiʻi lifeways. Applicants can be pursuing any career or college pathway they desire, but it might be helpful to include any connections that might exist between this species and the future career goal. 
     Awardees will be given the opportunity to work with the HWF mentors and project advisors and gain hands-on experience in the conservation field. Those who do not receive a scholarship may be offered other opportunities. HWF prioritizes local students in volunteer and internship programs, too.
    Applications are being accepted immediately and with rolling deadlines throughout the summer. Scholarships will be provided until funds run out. Hawai'i Wildlife Fund anticipates providing at least ten $500 scholarships. See more info about HWF and this opportunity at www.wildhawaii.org/contact.

PRODUCTION OF HYDROGEN FOR FUEL ON THIS ISLAND is center stage for a trip by Mayor Mitch Roth who travels to California this week to officially sign a Memorandum of Understanding affirming the County of Hawaiʻi's commitment to clean hydrogen exploration. The Mayor meets with 
Partners in hydrogen: Lancaster Mayor Rex Parrish, Namie Mayor
Eiko Yoshida, Mayor Mitch Roth and Japanese Consulate General
Kenko Sone. Photo from Hawai'i County

mayors from Namie, Japan; Lancaster, CA, and other dignitaries to sign the MOU. It "will be a significant step in developing a hydrogen economy in Hawaiʻi," says a statement from the County. Namie, Japan and Lancaster, CA are two of the world's leading hydrogen producers, weaning those cities from oil and choosing to mentor Hawai'i County.
    The MOU will be signed by the mayors to reinforce their dedication to the H2 Twin Cities program, sponsored by U.S. Department of Energy. The program aims to reduce the country's dependence on fossil fuels by promoting the use of clean, renewable hydrogen energy systems. Participation in the program will provide Hawaiʻi County with technical assistance, funding, and other resources to support the development of regional hydrogen energy networks.
    "This is about walking the talk of sustainability," said Roth. "We need to find ways to diversify our energy portfolio and economy while decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels, and we're confident that the conversion to a hydrogen economy will significantly help us do both of those things."
    The H2 Twin Cities program will see the formation of a Pacific Hydrogen Alliance between Hawaiʻi County, Lancaster, California, and Namie Town in Japan. Lancaster and Namie will share best practices and strategies with Hawaiʻi County to support targets of carbon neutrality by 2035 and address shared aims to develop a trained workforce, improve diversity, fairness and inclusion, and environmental justice practices. In addition, the partnership will emphasize the benefits of clean hydrogen solutions on people's lives, the local economy, and the environment.
    The Hawaiʻi County Council will consider Resolution 163 this Wednesday, May 3, to allow the Director of Research & Development of Hawaiʻi County to enter into the agreement to form the partnership with
Lancaster and Namie. According to Council Chair Heather Kimball, the resolution is merely a formality, as the Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes stipulate that council approval is necessary for county departments to engage in agreements with the federal and state governments. Therefore, a waiver of Resolution 163 directly to Council was granted so that the contract could be signed on May 5.
    "Hawai'i County's visit to California is a significant milestone for Hawaiʻi County, demonstrating its commitment to reducing its carbon footprint and supporting the expansion of renewable energy jobs. In addition, the selection of Hawaiʻi County for the H2 Twin Cities program is a significant achievement for the County and represents a crucial step toward creating a clean, sustainable hydrogen economy," says the County statement.
     For more information about H2 Twin Cities program and Hawaii County's participation, visit Department of Energy's website at: https://www.energy.gov/eere/h2twincities/h2-twin-cities-2022-winners or contact the Hawai'i County Department Research and Development.

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INTERNATIONAL WORKERS DAY WAS HONORED BY DENNIS JUNG on Monday, May Day. Jung, Chair of Hawai'i Democratic Party, released this message:
    “We take this moment to reflect upon the sacrifices of workers in Hawaiʻi. In Hawaiʻi, there were
thousands of migrant workers and native Hawaiians who protested the exploitation and oppression of the early plantation workers. We also need to remember the Hilo Massacre of August 1, 1938. Life back then was unnecessarily harsh, but these workers had the courage to stand up. They had the fortitude to fight back. Out of their sacrifice, we have created an island community that is sensitive to basic human issues of social justice and economic justice.”

    A statement from Hawai'i Democratic Party says, "Let us take a moment to reflect upon the hardships of the many generations of workers who have helped to make our world a better place in which to live. We ought to be very grateful for the role that workers have played in building our island community. The Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi was built on the sacrifices of workers. We stand together in profound solidarity to honor the workers of the past and the present. We take this moment to honor organized labor."
    Hawaiireads.com put out a list of books on the history of labor in Hawai'i: Rutledge Unionism: Labor Relations in the Honolulu Transit Industry by Bernard W. Stern (UH Press, 1986); A Spark is Struck! by Sanford Zalburg (2nd Edition, Watermark Publishing, 2007); Reworking Race: The Making of Hawaii’s Interracial Labor Movement by Moon-Kie Jung (Columbia University Press, 2006); Aupuni i Lā’au: A History of Hawai’i’s Carpenters Union Local 75 by Edward D. Beechert (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i, Center for Labor Education & Research, 1993); Working in Hawaii: A Labor History by Edward D. Beechert (University of Hawai’i Press, 1985).

Ben: A Memoir, From Street Kid to Governor by Benjamin J. Cayetano (Watermark Publishing, 2009)

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GOLD MEDAL UNBLEACHED ALL PURPOSE FLOUR in two, five and ten lb. bags are recalled. State
Department of Health Food & Drug Branch warns of the voluntary national recall by General Mills. The recalled bags of flour are those with a "better-if-used by" date of March 27and 28, 2024. The recall is due to potential presence of Salmonella Infantis. All other types of Gold Medal Flour are unaffected by this recall.

HAWAI'I IS RATED AS THE WORST STATE FOR NURSES, according to WalletHub which released its findings ahead of National Nurses Week, which begins May 6. Hawai'i's ranks as number 50, just below Oklahoma, Arkansas,

Alabama Mississippi and Louisiana. The top state for nursing is Washington, followed by Maine, New Mexico, Oregon, New Hampshire and Minnesota.
   Nationwide, nurses earn a mean annual wage of more than $89,000. Other metrics reported by WalletHub range from monthly average starting salary for nurses to health-care facilities per capita to nursing-job openings per capita.
    California has the highest annual mean wage for registered nurses (adjusted for cost of living), $91,719, which is 1.5 times higher than in South Dakota, the lowest at $60,848.
    Minnesota has the highest ratio of nurses to hospital beds, 5.09, which is 2.1 times higher than in Wyoming, the lowest at 2.44.
    To view the full report and more detail about Hawai'i, and recommendations for attracting and keeping more nurses, see https://wallethub.com/edu/best-states-for-nurses/4041

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HAWAI'I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK AND USGS ANNOUNCE MAY FLIGHT OPERATIONS:       May 3 between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. multiple flights are planned by USGS to deploy temporary seismic instruments in areas west of Kīlauea summit and south of the caldera, between 3,000- and 4,000-ft elevation. Similar missions may occur later this month, exact dates and times to be determined.
     May 4 between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. at Great Crack fence line for removal of old fence material between 2,500- and 1,000-ft. elevation.
    May 5 between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. for survey of invasive fountain grass in the Kahuku-Pōhue area between sea level and 2,000-ft. elevation.
Managing the Great Crack
Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park acquired the 1,951-acre Great Crack, a geologically rich and rugged area on the remote Southwest Rift Zone of Kīlauea volcano, in 2018. The area is mostly barren lava rock, with no surface water, few trees, and little shade, but it is a superb example of the geologic dynamism of the area. The Pacific Ocean borders this exposed, windward shoreline. To improve the area, old fences are being removed. The Park has worked to create a long-term plan for managing the Great Crack area. It was designated as potential wilderness in 1978 while under private ownership. Over the years, various commercial developments were proposed by the previous landowner, including a space launch facility, but none were implemented. NPS photo by Janice Wei

    May 9 between 6:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., for ʻuaʻu (Hawaiian petrel) monitoring on Mauna Loa between 4,000- to 9,000-ft. elevation and for fountain grass control and mapping from the park's west boundary to Keauhou from sea level to 4,000-ft. elevation.
    May 10 between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., for ʻuaʻu (Hawaiian petrel) monitoring on Mauna Loa, from 4,000-ft. to 9,000-ft. elevation.
    In addition, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will conduct several low-level helicopter flights in May over Kīlauea caldera, the volcano's summit area and rift zones:
    USGS may conduct additional flight operations over Kīlauea and Mauna Loa to assess volcanic activity and maintain instrumentation.
    A statement from the Park says it "regrets any noise impact to residents and park visitors. Dates and times are subject to change based on aircraft availability and weather. Management of the park requires the use of aircraft to monitor and research volcanic activity, conduct search-and-rescue missions and law enforcement operations, support management of natural and cultural resources, and to maintain backcountry facilities."

COUNTY WASTEWATER CHIEF DORA BECK will retire June 1, capping a 20-year career with the Department of Environmental Management. Beck, a licensed professional engineer, has worked in various engineering capacities for the department since 2003. She also served as DEM Acting Director under the Kenoi administration from 2011 to 2013.
    "Dora has been with Wastewater Division almost since the founding of the department, and she has gathered a wealth of institutional knowledge in her time with the County of Hawai'i," said Director Ramzi Mansour. "We thank her for all her years of service and wish her all the best of luck in her next adventure." Christopher Laude has been temporarily assigned the duties of Wastewater Division Chief.
Keoki Sereno begins a free six week 'ukulele course for all ages
on Wednesday, May 10. Photo by Julia Neal

FREE 'UKULELE LESSONS begin Wednesday, May 10 at 2:30 p.m. for children 8 to 108 at the United Methodist Church. 'Ukulele will be available to borrow.     
    The location is 95-5668 Mamalahoa Hwy in  Naalehu, cross the street from the post office. The six week course will be taught by musician and teacher Keoki Sereno, who plays at many venues and celebrations throughout Kaʻū.