New Permit Process for Fishpond Restoration
DLNR News Release
Navigating a complicated and time-consuming regulatory path for restoration of traditional fishpond systems in Hawaii should soon become more efficient and manageable, thanks to a proposed statewide programmatic general permit process. Statewide public hearings on this proposed process are being held to gather input. The Molokai hearing will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 25 at Kulana `Oiwi Halau from 6 to 8 p.m.
Known as Ho`ala Loko I`a, this consolidated process is intended to provide cultural practitioners with a single application and permit, processed by the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands (OCCL). This streamlined permit will encompass the five potential permits that are currently required. The program has been designed to be in compliance with no less than 17 distinct federal and state regulations.
OCCL anticipates the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will issue a general permit that will delegate to the state the authority to issue permits covered under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 403).
The Section 10 process includes a mandatory consultation with resource agencies and compliance with the state’s Coastal Zone Management program, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act §401 Water Quality Certification program, the Magnusson-Stevenson Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act.
Projects will require a single user-friendly Conservation District Use Application (CDUA) that has been modified to meet the needs of the Ho`ala Loko I`a program. The Ho`ala Loko I`a CDUA will ask applicants to discuss the history of the pond, the ecology of the pond system, the applicant’s relationship to the pond and associated ‘ahupua‘a, the proposed work, and the proposed best management practices and water quality monitoring plans that will be followed.
A Final Environmental Assessment (FEA) for the program, prepared by Honua Consulting, and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) were published in October 2013. The FEA examined over three decades of research data into fishpond systems, and concluded that the project could result in short-term minimal impacts to water quality, but these would be mitigated by long-term cumulative benefits to the coastal ecosystem in Hawaii.
OCCL will make copies of the application available for inspection at the Molokai Public Library and other locations statewide.
For more information regarding this application, the public may contact Michael Cain of the Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands at (808) 587-0048.