Surf and Turf

Editorial by Todd Yamashita

Do we need to control feral animal populations humanely? Yes. Do we deserve great neighborhood restaurants? Absolutely. Letters to the editor this week remind us that we live in a compassionate and active community. While we all have varying opinions, one thing is certain – most of us have good intentions in making our community a better place.

Unfortunately, as Walter Ritte says, good intentions are not enough. Some of the problems we face in our community are complicated – they are difficult to understand and require complex solutions.

Take Molokai’s invasive goat populations – the goats eat so much vegetation in the uplands that our neighborhoods flood every winter, leaving fishponds and the reefs choked with silt. However, it’s not as simple as killing all the goats. Hunters depend on goat meat to feed their families. So do we continue to let the goats destroy our environment?

Fortunately, The Nature Conservancy has invested more than a decade of hard work in actively thinning the herds. They’ve also adapted their techniques over the years to make the process as humane as possible. Maybe someone could volunteer to walk the fence every week to check for goats that are stuck. Goats shouldn’t have to suffer; then again, neither should our forests and reefs.

As for Coffees of Hawaii reducing its services, it is important to understand the nature of the restaurant business – alcoholic beverages pay the bills. Paddlers Inn, for instance, is doing it’s best to obtain a license to sell alcohol because the added business will help keep the doors open.

Coffees has been an outstanding partner in revitalizing Kualapu`u. However, like other for-profit businesses, their spending is limited by income. Coffees was not trying to open a saloon – they were attempting to diversify their income in order to continue quality food and entertainment.

While the community of Kualapu`u has every right to keep its town dry, there is a tradeoff. Potential business will continue to be funneled to Hotel Molokai, and soon, Paddlers Inn.

The problems we face in a community as diverse as ours require a high level of research, reflection, compassion, cooperation and compromise. The answers aren’t always pretty, and they are certainly never perfect, but if it is done right, the result is something we can all live with. Here’s hoping for a healthier reef and a good place to eat.


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