October - November 2000
MacDonald leaves DBEDT for East Coast
Hawaii’s ocean industry lost one of its foremost proponents with the September 18 departure of Dr. Craig MacDonald, chief of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism’s Ocean Resources Branch since 1985. MacDonald accepted the position of superintendent of the 842-square-mile Gerry E. Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, located 25 miles east of Boston, Mass.
He joined the department as a marine programs specialist in 1982 when it was known as the Department of Planning and Economic Development. During the past 18 years, he’s been through 2 departmental name changes, 7 directors, 3 reorganizations (counting one still pending) and 5 office moves.
More significantly, however, MacDonald has guided the branch through its transition from a funding agency for resource assessment, development of new marine technology and educational programs to an agency that has created award-winning marketing programs for Hawaii seafood, ocean research and development and ocean recreation. He led the effort to characterize ocean industries for the first time in order to provide a sense of the size and importance of those industries that rely on the state’s ocean resources.
MacDonald also contributed greatly to the formation of ocean policy, particularly through his role as project manager for the Hawaii Ocean and Marine Resources Council, which produced the nation’s first integrated ocean resources management plan. He has served on numerous state and national ocean-related advisory bodies including a committee of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council and the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary advisory committee.
A graduate of the University of Maine with a bachelor’s degree in zoology, MacDonald served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Palau, Western Caroline Islands (Micronesia), where he worked in fisheries management and development. He later earned a master’s degree in marine sciences from the University of Puerto Rico and a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Hawaii. He conducted Sea Grant postdoctoral research in fishery science at the University of Hawaii, where he also received a Certificate in Public Administration.
Throughout his career in Hawaii, one of MacDonald’s guiding principles in promoting Hawaii’s ocean industries has been the wise use of resources held in public trust, according to DBEDT colleague Elizabeth Corbin. She notes, “Craig practiced sustainable development before it became a popular buzz word.”
Corbin, who also joined the Ocean Resources Branch in 1982, was named acting ocean resources development manager. She previously held the title of marine programs specialist.
Editor’s note: Craig was a contributing writer for the inaugural issue of Hawaii Ocean Industry and Shipping News in 1996 – and several issues since. We wish him continued success with his new responsibilities.
Fishing for ocean pollutants
by Mele Pochereva
Like canaries in coal mines, moi, or Pacific threadfin, could become indicators of environmental pollution in coastal waters.
Under a contract awarded by the National Defense Center of Excellence for Research in Ocean Sciences (CEROS), the Oceanic Institute is studying the feasibility of using hatchery-raised fish as biological indicators of aquatic pollution at current and former defense sites. The “laboratory” is Pearl Harbor, a Superfund clean-up site, where 15,000 moi and 15,000 mullet fingerlings, tagged with coded information, have been released by the institute since last November.
When recaptured every few months, the fish will be tested for such pollutants as polychlorinated biphenyl compounds (PCPs), the herbicide mecoprop (PCPP), heptachlor epoxide and other toxins. Growth rates for the recaptured fish will be compared with historical growth rates for cultured fish released in Kaneohe Bay as well as with samples from the wild mullet population in Pearl Harbor. Researchers also will try to determine how long it takes for pollutants to be detected in the fish.
Dr. David Ziemann, lead researcher for the OI project, says that simply studying the harbor sediment does not tell the total effect of pollutants on the food chain. Studying wild fish populations also is not an accurate assessment since the geographic origin of the wild fish cannot be determined. Releasing “clean,” pollution-free fish into Pearl Harbor could provide an important status report on pollution in the harbor for evaluation of current and future remediation efforts.
While mullet are found naturally in Pearl Harbor, they are omnivores and lower on the food chain than moi, which are carnivores and potentially could carry higher concentrations of pollutants, said Ziemann.
A question still to be answered by the researchers is whether the released fish will stay in Pearl Harbor so they can be recaptured and tested.
The study is the first of its kind in the country, and if successful, could provide a model for assessing pollution at other defense sites and the effect of pollutants on animal health.
Farming Hawaii's Waters
Open-ocean cage technology could boost seafood industry
by Mele Pochereva
Two miles off the Leeward Coast of Oahu, a population of some 140,000 Pacific threadfin, or moi, thrive in a giant sea cage 50 to 100 feet below the ocean surface. They are part of a demonstration aquaculture project to test the commercial, biological and environmental viability of open-ocean farming in Hawaii.
While other countries such as Greece, Taiwan and the Philippines are now testing open-ocean farming, Hawaii’s is the first year-round, open-ocean cage experiment in the world.
With funding from the National Sea Grant Program and NOAA, the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program launched the cage project in the spring of 1999, using state-of-the-art finfish aquaculture technologies. Among the collaborators are the Oceanic Institute, which provides the moi fingerlings to stock the cage, and Safety Boats Hawaii, which is contracted to handle day-to-day operations, including feeding, monitoring and harvesting the fish.
Once the food of Hawaiian royalty, the indigenous moi is making a culinary comeback in upscale restaurants around the state – and around the world. Land-based aquaculture farmers, mostly on the Big Island and Oahu, have been raising moi commercially since the mid-1990s.
In 1998, 41,500 pounds of moi valued at $214,000 were harvested. That figure is expected to double for 1999, according to the state’s Aquaculture Development Program.
Offshore cage farming could further expand the state’s aquaculture industry at a time when seafood consumption is rising worldwide and some wild fisheries are reaching their maximum sustainable yields. In Hawaii, where annual seafood consumption averages 45 pounds per person – three times the U.S. mainland rate — 75% of the fish must be imported to meet demand.
“The potential of aquaculture in open-ocean environments has attracted considerable interest throughout the world and raises the intriguing possibility of fully utilizing the ocean’s resources,” said Dr. Charles Helsley, recently retired director of Hawaii’s Sea Grant program.
Helsley is largely responsible for securing the funding and as well as state and federal permits for the cage research, a process that included consent from the State Land Board, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency, the state Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation and Division of Aquatics, and the state Department of Health.
Hawaii’s Aquaculture Development Program and Department of Land & Natural Resources helped craft legislation passed in 1999 to amend the state regulations on ocean leasing.The legislation allows the state to issue five-year commercial leases for Hawaii waters and submerged lands, according to ADP Manager John Corbin. It also removed the size limit for open-ocean commercial projects, allowing ecological and economic factors to determine the “farm” size. Corbin said this gives commercial ventures a five-year window of opportunity to test the waters and evaluate the environmental impact, after which time the state can choose to extend the leases.
If the results of the experiment off the Leeward coast are any indication, the future of cage farming in Hawaii is promising: More than 50,000 market-size moi were produced in six months during the first phase of the project.
The open-ocean advantage
Cage technology is already in use commercially in other parts of the world, including the Pacific Northwest and Norway where salmon cultures are established, and in Australia where a successful tuna cage culture has been developed. But these cage systems are designed for protected, near-shore waters. The off-shore cage technology being tested in Hawaii offers a number of biological and environmental advantages over near-shore farms, according to Dr. Anthony Ostrowski, head of Oceanic Institute’s finfish program.
By submerging the cage 40 feet or more below the surface, recreational boaters are not impacted, poaching is less likely, and the cage and fish are protected from rough surface conditions. Strong ocean currents diffuse effluent from the cage, and Ostrowski says environmental monitoring has shown no adverse impact on either the surrounding water or the ocean floor.
Moi was chosen as the test fish because it could produce enough fry to sustain the research, but other indigenous Hawaiian fish such as kahala (greater amberjack), gray snapper and blue fin trevally are also good candidates for cage culture, according to Ostrowski.
Whether or not open-ocean cage farming is economically viable is yet to be proven. Hawaii entrepreneur Randy Cates is ready to prove that it is.
Cates, president of Safety Boats Hawaii, has been involved with the Sea Grant mariculture project from the day he helped deploy the cage off the Leeward coast last year. Since then, his company has provided daily on-the-water support for the project, from feeding and harvesting the fish to cleaning their cage.
Open-ocean farming has “huge potential for Hawaii,” Cates says. And he plans to tap into that potential. Last year he formed a new commercial venture, Cates International, with partner Ginny Enos, and became the first person in the country to apply for a commercial open-ocean farm permit.
There are actually more than a dozen federal and state permits Cates needs, and as soon as he has them all, he’ll be ready for business. He has two cages like the one being tested, ready to deploy; a new support boat; personnel lined up; and the technical know-how to operate the farm. The minimum start-up cost for an economically viable operation is about $1 million, Cates says, and he’s got most of that capital, too. Getting moi fingerlings to stock the cages will be one of his biggest challenges.
Each of the cages has a 150,000 fish capacity but Cates says he plans to start off with a smaller number of fish then gather environmental and other data before gearing up to capacity. He also wants to demonstrate to the community and the state that open-ocean farming and ocean recreation can co-exist. Since the test cage was deployed 18 months ago, there hasn’t been one conflict with community interests, Cates points out.
“Randy is a classic entrepreneur, and he has the skills and experience to pull it off,” says ADR’s Corbin, who believes open-ocean farming could open new export opportunities for Hawaii seafood.
The SeaStation 3000, submerged in waters off Ewa Beach, Oahu, is a 50-by-80 foot bi-conical sea cage developed by Ocean Spar Technologies of Bainbridge Island, Wash. The cage, which costs about $90,000, has a steel center spar filled with air, allowing the cage to be raised and lowered as needed.
A steel frame supports a rigid mesh netting made of Spectra, a plastic and metal polymer material developed by NASA. Spectra is light enough to float, but has the strength of steel. Its rigid quality makes it difficult for sharks and other predators to penetrate the cage.
The fish are fed commercial pellets, which are piped into the cage daily from a support vessel on the surface. The cage also can be stocked and harvested without being raised to the surface.
By submersing the cage in 40 to 50 feet of water, out of the high-energy zone, the cage and the fish are less susceptible to damage from large swells and surface waves.
Pacific Nations Adopt Tuna Treaty
by Sylvia Spalding
Fishing nations from throughout the Pacific adopted an agreement on Sept. 4 to establish an international fishery commission to ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable use of tuna and other highly migratory fish stocks in the central and western Pacific.
“The adoption of the convention was a culmination of five years of long negotiations on some very difficult issues,” said Ambassador Satya Nandan of Fiji, chairman of the Multilateral High-Level Conference (MHLC) on Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific. “It reflects a fair balance of interests, in particular between developing Pacific countries, in whose national areas large stocks of tuna fish are found, and distant-water fishing states, which fish in the Central and Western Pacific.”
The two-thirds vote required for adoption of the convention was met with 19 nations voting in favor; Japan and Korea opposing; and China, France and Tonga abstaining. The 24 nations, as well as other Pacific territories and fishing entities, had been meeting at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu since August 30 for the seventh and final session of MHLC.
In their closing statements, the Japanese and Korean delegations listed several reasons for their opposition to the convention. On the top of both lists was the decision-making procedure.
According to the convention, decisions of the fishery commission will be made by consensus as a general rule. If consensus cannot be reached, decisions by voting on questions of procedure will be taken by a majority of those present and voting. Decisions on questions of substance will be taken by a three-fourths majority of the members of the South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) present and voting and a three-fourths majority of non-members of the FFA present and voting. The treaty also provides that in no circumstances will a proposal be defeated by two or fewer votes in either chamber.
The FFA is comprised of 16 Pacific nations: Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Western Samoa. In general, they are small developing Pacific island states whose exclusive economic zones are harvested by distant-water fishing nations for a fee.
“The decision-making process should enable the commission to take into account views of the minority, such as Asian fishing nations and fishing entities in the Forum,” noted Masayaki Komatsu, counselor for Fisheries Agency, Government of Japan. However, the objection clause recommended by Japan, which would have allowed a single nation to decide to opt out of certain measures adopted by the majority, was disfavored by most other nations.
Tonga also found the decision-making process outlined in the convention unacceptable, but for the opposite reason. Head delegate Akauola noted that a body of three from the non-FFA member chamber could veto the majority consensus of the FFA chamber.
Compliance and enforcement provisions in the convention also concerned Japan and Korea. “The boarding and inspection scheme, the observer program on the high seas and provisions relating to VMS [vessel monitoring system] should be based on the flag-state principle and should be practicable and preclude excessive burdens on the part of the fishermen,” Komatsu stated.
Both Japan and Korea were also concerned about references and direct quotations of the United Nations Implementing Agreement on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks. The agreement, which has not been adopted by Japan and some other MHLC members, provides guidance on the concept of “precautionary approach” to conservation and management of fisheries resources; defines how coastal states and distant-water fishing nations are to cooperate in the conservation and management of tuna and other fish stocks; and requires regional fisheries entities to develop management strategies along with enforcement and monitoring, control and surveillance systems to ensure compliance with fisheries regulations for highly migratory species.
Japan was also concerned about the northern boundary. According to the convention, both the northern and western boundaries of the convention area are not fixed but will encompass the range of the stocks within the Pacific Ocean. However, the convention is not intended to include waters in Southeast Asia that are not part of the Pacific Ocean, nor is it intended to include the waters of the South China Sea.
Japan suggested that the northern boundary be fixed at 20°N. It also said the convention should be limited to conservation and management of tropical tunas and not include the northern albacore tuna and other cold water species.
The United States opposed Japan’s suggestion. A 20°N boundary would cut right through the middle of Hawaii, noted U.S. head delegate Tucker Scully, director of the Office of Ocean Affairs, U.S. Department of State. The southern and eastern boundaries of the convention area are fixed. They span from the south coast of Australia due south along the 141° meridian of east longitude to 55°S latitude; thence due east to 150°E longitude; thence due south to 60°S latitude; thence due east to 130°W longitude; thence due north to 4°S latitude; thence due west to 150°W longitude; thence due north.
Participation by territories
Another key issue resolved during the seventh MHLC session related to participation in the fisheries commission by territories and fishing entities.
According to the final draft of the convention, fishing entities such as Taiwan, whose vessels fish for highly migratory fish stocks in the convention area may, by written instrument, agree to be bound by the regime established by the convention. Any such fishing entity shall participate in the work of the commission, including decision-making on matters stated in the convention. China, which abstained in its vote on the convention, had argued against membership status by fishing entities.
As for territories within the Pacific, the convention notes that American Samoa, French Polynesia, Guam, New Caledonia, Northern Mariana Islands, Tokelau and Wallis and Futuna are entitled to be present and to speak at the meetings of the commission and its subsidiary bodies. Separate rules of procedure will be developed by the contracting parties on the extent and nature of participation by these territories.
France, which abstained from voting, had argued for full participation by French Polynesia and New Caledonia. However, the United States and other countries found the status of these territories to be problematic within the context of the convention. Although certain fisheries management function have been devolved to the local legislatures, France retains sovereignty over the territories and would ultimately be legally responsible for implementing obligations under the agreement.
At the conclusion of the conference, 11 nations signed the convention. The convention is now deposited in New Zealand where it will remain open for signature for a year. It will enter into force 30 days after the deposit of instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession by three States north of 20°N latitude (i.e., the distant-water fishing nations) and seven States situated south of the 20°N latitude (i.e., the Pacific island nations in whose waters the fishing predominantly occurs). In the meantime, the convention participants will meet in New Zealand the first half of 2001 to prepare for the commission so that it can begin functioning immediately upon the convention’s entry into force.
While adoption of the convention was a landmark occasion, some say its success was marred by an “us against them” attitude between fishing nations and developing states and a focus on politics instead fish stocks. More optimistic participants say the outstanding issues can be worked out within the bounds the convention.
Sylvia Spalding is a media and education specialist with the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council.
Is Hawaii Ready for the New Fisheries Commission?
Tuna stocks in the western and central Pacific are considered healthy, but quotas may be on the way when the new international fisheries commission for the western and central Pacific begins functioning.
According to the treaty adopted by 19 of 24 Pacific nations in September, the new international fisheries commission will be empowered to do the following for highly migratory fish stocks in the convention area, which spans from Hawaii to New Zealand and from Japan to French Polynesia:
The fishery commission will not become effective until some time after the approved number of countries ratify or formally adhere to the convention. Furthermore, even after the convention goes into effect, it will not have an impact on U.S. fishermen until the United States has an implementing statute and probably some implementing regulations as well.
To ensure Hawaii fishermen get their fair share when the commission is operating and allocations are determined, members of the Recreational Fisheries Data Task Force of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council are working to determine the annual catch by Hawaii’s recreational fisheries. As neither the federal government nor the State of Hawaii require reporting of recreational catches, the task is daunting.
Fishery managers at the Council are also concerned that the U.S. federal court injunction against the Hawaii longline fishery, if prolonged, could severely affect Hawaii’s historic catch record. Area closures have been in place since December 1999.
In August, U.S. District Court Judge David Ezra further restricted the fishery with seasonal closures, targeting restrictions, effort limitations, fish sale restrictions and 20 to 100 percent observer cover requirements depending on area. These restrictions will remain in place until the National Marine Fisheries Service completes a comprehensive environmental impact statement for the fishery by April 1, 2001.
— Sylvia Spalding
Cleaning up the Coastline
On September 16, almost 5,000 volunteers cleaned up Hawaii’s coastlines, streams and waterways throughout the islands during the annual Get the Drift & Bag It campaign. UH Sea Grant partners with the Hawaii Coastal Zone Management Program to coordinate this annual cleanup effort, a contribution by Hawaii volunteers to the International Coastal Cleanup sponsored by the Center for Marine Conservation. Exact counts are not in yet but the usual “Dirty Dozen” of marine debris include cigarette butts, bits of plastic, glass, paper, styrofoam, plastic bags, metal bottle caps, glass bottles, plastic bottles, plastic caps and lids and soda cans. Sea Grant experts say that 80 percent of all marine debris comes from land sources. But lost and discarded fishing gear also washes up on Hawaii beaches, swept through the islands by ocean currents and wind. In its wake are left abraded coral and damaged wildlife habitats.
Medical privacy, medical marijuana laws won’t affect federal regulations
Passage of two new laws by the State of Hawaii – the medical privacy law and legalized medical marijuana use – is causing confusion regarding the implications for federal regulatory requirements. The bottom line is: Federal drug and alcohol testing regulations will not be affected.
Hawaii’s medical privacy law does not change the requirements established in federal regulations. Mariners are still subject to drug and alcohol testing and marine employers must continue to report the test results to the Coast Guard. Violation of these regulations may subject individuals and companies to civil penalties.
Federal law requires certain maritime employees to be tested for drugs and alcohol as a means to minimize the use of intoxicants and to promote a drug free and safe work environment (Title 46, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 16). Testing is required for employment, obtaining merchant mariner credentials, randomly and following marine accidents. The regulations specify that marine employers must report the test results to the Coast Guard.
On the issue of legalized medical marijuana use, the President’s Office of National Drug Policy clearly stated federal policy in response to similar propositions passed in California, Arizona and Oregon (Policy letters dated December 12, 1996 and August 15, 1997). Marijuana does not have a legitimate medical use in the United States and its use is not a legitimate medical explanation for a positive drug test. If you test positive and state that a physician recommended or prescribed the use of marijuana for you, your test will be verified as positive. You will have to stop performing your safety-sensitive transportation duties. The same policy applies to hemp food products such as hemp oil and seeds (Policy letter dated July 29, 1997).
The integrity of the national transportation system is critical to the continued prosperity of the United States. The welfare and confidence of the American public using our transportation system depend on transportation workers’ unwavering commitment to safety. The use of marijuana and other illicit drugs is incompatible with transportation safety and will not be tolerated.
If you have questions, please call LTJG Bill DeLuca, Coast Guard Drug and Alcohol Program Inspector, at 522-8264, ext. 294.
Contributed by USCG MSO-Honolulu
November 11, 2000 ~ Saturday
© 2002 Hawaii Ocean Industry