THE SENATE

S.R. NO.

29

TWENTY-SECOND LEGISLATURE, 2004

S.D. 1

STATE OF HAWAII

 
   


SENATE RESOLUTION

 

Requesting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to work with the Department of Land and Natural Resources to ensure that the Hawaiian spinner dolphin population are managed and protected in a manner that is consistent with the United States Marine Mammal Protection Act.

 

WHEREAS, the Hawaiian spinner dolphin is known to frequent both the inshore and offshore areas around west Oahu, most notably Makua and Keawaula; and

WHEREAS, the Hawaiian spinner dolphin is easily recognizable because of its acrobatic and high spinning leaps and somersaults; and

WHEREAS, unlike other species of dolphin, the Hawaiian spinner dolphin hunts and feeds at night which means that the spinner dolphin population rests during the daylight hours in the near-shore areas around Makua and Keawaula; and

WHEREAS, Hawaiian spinner dolphins have emerged as a popular tourist attraction in light of their acrobatic and high spinning behavior and there has been an increase in the number of commercial tour operators operating out of the Waianae Small Boat Harbor as well as the Ko 'Olina Marina; and

WHEREAS, commercial tour operators have organized frequent daylight viewing expeditions which allows tourists to observe these creatures up close, and the increase in the number of these expeditions not only disturbs the resting patterns of these creatures, but also increases the conflict between tour operators and commercial fishing operations in the area, as both parties compete for valuable dock space and access to fishing grounds in this area; and

WHEREAS, the United States Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) explicitly prohibits any unauthorized "take" (harassment, harm or disturbance) of spinner dolphins; and

WHEREAS, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, the federal agency entrusted with administering the MMPA, has promulgated policy stating that closely approaching, interacting or swimming with dolphins may constitute a violation of the MMPA; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Land and Natural Resources has expressed concern that some on-going dolphin-watching activities that involve swimming with and/or operating in close proximity to resting dolphins may be resulting in "take" or harassment of spinner dolphins; and

WHEREAS, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, which is co-managed by the Department of Land and Natural Resources, has demonstrated an effective, community-based approach to conserving marine mammals, while simultaneously facilitating ocean uses, and is further mandated by Congress to identify additional marine species of national significance for possible inclusion in the sanctuary; and

WHEREAS, Makako Bay, Honaunau Bay, Kauhako Bay, Kehena Bay, Honokoa Bay, O'koe Bay, Kealakekua Bay and Leleiwi (Hawaii); Hulopoe Bay, Manele Bay, the coast line east of Kalaeokahano Point to Makolea Point (Lana'i); Honokanai'a Bay (Kaho'olawe); La Perouse Bay (Maui); areas along the Waianae coast (Oahu); and other nearshore areas around the State have been identified by marine mammal scientists as critical resting areas for spinner dolphins; and

WHEREAS, marine mammal scientists and other ocean users have expressed serious concern regarding negative impacts on spinner dolphins resulting from dolphin watching activities on the Waianae Coast (Oahu), Kealakekua Bay (Hawaii), La Perouse Bay (Maui), and elsewhere in Hawaii; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Land and Natural Resources has testified before the Legislature that the most appropriate method to preserve and protect the Hawaiian spinner dolphin is by allowing the Department to formulate a comprehensive management plan for this area; now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate of the Twenty-Second Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2004, that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is requested to work cooperatively with the Department of Land and Natural Resources to ensure that dolphin-watching activities and other human interactions with Hawaii's spinner dolphins are managed in a manner consistent with the MMPA and community-based, marine mammal conservation, while also providing for economically optimal and socially acceptable levels of ocean use; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that in the cooperative work requested above and in additional efforts undertaken by the Department of Land and Natural Resources, priority be given to minimizing adverse impacts of dolphin-watching activities on other ocean uses, including fishing, recreation, tourism, transportation, and traditional Hawaiian practices; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is requested to work cooperatively with the Department of Land and Natural Resources to effectively enforce the MMPA and other existing federal and state laws that protect Hawaii's spinner dolphins; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a certified copy of this Resolution be transmitted to Pacific Islands Area Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Chairperson of the Board of Land and Natural Resources.

Report Title:

Management Plan by DNLR for Spinner Dolphins