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A Plan to Malama Our Resources

Molokai’s ocean resources are fragile, and many say they’re rapidly disappearing. In a statewide effort to preserve and better manage coastline and watershed areas, the Hawaii Ocean Resources Management Plan (ORMP) is being updated from the existing version, last updated in 2006. The plan represents an inter-agency effort to coordinate county, state and federal actions, facilitated by the state Department of Planning Coastal Zone Management (CZM) program.

Along with setting up collaborative management framework for different agencies to work together, the plan also fosters community stewardship and cooperation between the community and the managing agencies, said Leo Asuncion, CZM planning program manager. Asuncion spoke to Molokai residents at a meeting held last week — the last of seven statewide to collect input on the ORMP’s update.

Community action and stewardship was a recurring theme of the conversation.

“You can’t depend on the government to protect resources,” said Colette Machado, Office of Hawaiian Affairs chairperson and Molokai trustee. “We want to make sure that community management is a high priority on new plan.”

Activist Walter Ritte agreed, adding that with the Aha Kiole, a traditionally-based local resource management group, gaining momentum throughout the state, there is already a strong framework for community involvement.

“This [ORMP] plan should support this [Aha Kiole] effort,” he said. “Our only hope is for us to manage our own resources.”

The Aha Kiole is not currently listed as one of dozens of consulting agencies for the ORMP, but planners agreed that more community-based oversight is something they want to see in the updated plan.

Another concern raised by Molokai residents was a lack of enforcement of existing environmental laws.

“There are only two enforcement officers on Molokai but they don’t even have a boat,” said resident Kawika Duvauchelle.

“Changes should be made at a government level, but enforcement is not happening,” seconded fellow resident Yama Kaholoa`a. “The south side of the island is taking a tremendous hit.”

Some said development in Kawela needed to be better managed to prevent erosion and silt run-off, a well-documented problem for the coastal reef. Other concerns raised included an animal control plan to better prevent erosion and managing the current large-scale agriculture methods that leave extensive, dusty fields exposed and use chemicals that pollute the reef.

Kanoho Helm, president of I Aloha Molokai, spoke about the environmental risks of the proposed inter-island undersea cable and Molokai wind turbines. Machado echoed his concerns.

“I’m offended by taking resources from Molokai and taking it to Oahu,” Machado said. “We’re of the mentality that you malama what you have.”

Marnie Meyer, CZM planning and policy analyst, said alternative energy was a common theme of other islands’ discussions for inclusion in the updated ORMP, as were issues like food security, climate change and watershed conservation.

“This is not the last chance for input [on the plan],” said Asuncion. The draft of the plan update will be ready this summer, then a second round of meetings will be held on all the islands in the fall. The final ORMP, scheduled to be updated every five years, is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2013. The original plan was written in 1991.

Residents who missed last week’s meeting or thought of additional comments can submit feedback via email at ormp_update@dbedt.hawaii.gov, fax (808) 587-2846, or mail: Ms. Marnie Meyer, Office of Planning, CZM Program, 235 S. Beretania St., 6th floor, PO Box 2359, Honolulu, HI 96804.