Report Title:

Ocean Health Consensus Project; Appropriation



Appropriates funds for the center for conservation research and training at the University of Hawaii to develop and implement an ocean health consensus project to build community based consensus in Hawaii for managing ocean ecosystem resources.  (SD2)



S.B. NO.



S.D. 2










relating to ocean health consensus.





     SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that the health of our oceans is declining rapidly due to pollution, unsustainable and destructive fishing, climate change, habitat loss from ill‑planned development, and invasive species.  Ninety per cent of the world's large predatory fish have disappeared in the past fifty years.  Seventy-five per cent of fisheries are now fished at or beyond their sustainable capacity.  Overfishing, much of it illegal, unreported, and unregulated, is mostly responsible for ocean fisheries collapsing throughout the world.  When fisheries collapse, remaining fisheries feel increasing pressure, so that local fishery decline quickly becomes global fishery decline.

     However, overfishing is not the only threat to ocean health.  The deterioration of coastal ecosystems, like coastal wetlands and coral reefs, threatens the ninety per cent of ocean fish that rely on these ecosystems for food or spawning.  Excess nutrient flows from fertilizers and untreated sewage cause huge algal blooms and ocean dead zones.  One third of the C02 released from burning fossil fuels currently goes into the ocean, forming carbonic acid that raises ocean acidity, threatening hard‑shelled organisms and coral reefs.  Overall loss of ocean biodiversity threatens food supplies, water quality, and ocean ecosystem resilience.  Furthermore, government subsidies for many destructive practices continue in the billions of dollars.

     The legislature further finds that Hawaii is no exception to the decline of coastal fisheries worldwide.  Fisheries in Hawaii have declined dramatically in the past one hundred years due to overfishing and loss of habitat.  Surrounded by ocean, Hawaii imports eighty-five per cent of its seafood.  New or expanding fisheries can now fish only at the expense of those already harvesting Hawaii's marine resources.  Furthermore, Hawaii's ocean industries include both commercial and recreational fishing, as well as diving and snorkeling, aquaculture, maritime shipping, ocean research, boating, kayaking, and surfing.  Cultivation of these ocean industries, especially those related to ecotourism, is critical to the health of Hawaii's economy.

     The legislature further finds that, though we do not implement them effectively, we do know solutions to these threats to ocean health.  For example, we know that policymakers, management agencies, and ocean scientists show increasing interest in ecosystem-based or place-based management that separates competing uses, reduces conflict, increases certainty among users, protects sensitive marine resources, and that considers the health of whole ecosystems, rather than single species.  We know that the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy (2004) and the Pew Oceans Commission (2003) both recommend ecosystem-based management of the 4,400,000 square miles of ocean within the jurisdiction of the United States.

     We also know that many traditional and local management methods have survived the test of time and that local-community involvement is critical to effective ecosystem management, for example, land/sea ecosystem-management initiatives now taking place on Maui, Oahu, and Kauai.  We know that the precautionary principle works, so that we take care not to destroy what we do not yet understand.  We know that marine reserves and no-take zones serve as natural hatcheries that repopulate surrounding areas.  We know that catch and fishing-effort limits, time and area closures, and various fishing method restrictions work when they are adhered to.  We know that Hawaii's public trust doctrine provides principled guidelines to leaders concerned about tensions between development and preservation and about rights of native Hawaiians and non-indigenous peoples.

     Finally, the legislature finds that lack of consensus among Hawaii's numerous economic, scientific, and local-community ocean health stakeholders is the primary reason that known solutions do not effectively address known threats to ocean health.  The key to consensus and to adherence or enforcement is building long-term commitments among all stakeholders to identify knowledge gaps, communicate findings, resolve conflicts, ensure fairness, and enlist local and indigenous-community expertise.  A consensus-building approach usually requires more time at the beginning of the process than in the later stages, but in the long term, a consensus approach takes no longer and costs less than top‑down approaches.  Consensus builds broad solidarity and agreement, getting stakeholders to accept shared solutions that combine expertise with responsibility.  An educated and participating public, in particular, has tremendous potential to influence future policies toward sustainable ocean health.

     The purpose of this Act is to fund an ocean health consensus project to build community-based consensus in Hawaii for managing ocean ecosystem resources for the benefit of all of our Hawaiian islands, for all of our marine and coastal communities, and for the health of ocean ecosystems themselves.

     SECTION 2.  (a)  The center for conservation research and training of the University of Hawaii shall develop an ocean health consensus project to build community-based consensus in Hawaii for managing ocean ecosystem resources.  Two key principles will be critical to this project.  First, any consensus must be based on equity, fairness, need, and best available scientific knowledge.  All resource users must be responsible for their actions, with decision making and accountability shared cooperatively by all stakeholders and government officials.  Second, given the inherent uncertainties regarding ecosystem-based management the project must err on the side of caution and take a precautionary approach.

     The ocean health consensus project shall consist of at least the following five broad steps:

     (1)  Convening key stakeholder representatives to exchange ideas in ways that invite productive problem solving.  Key stakeholder groups shall include commercial and recreational fishing, resource-management agencies, policymakers, scientists, environmentalists, tourism, ocean tourism, local communities and kupuna, and the general public and consumers;

     (2)  Assigning roles and responsibilities-clarifying who will be in charge, specifying the ground rules, defining the role of facilitators;

     (3)  Facilitating group problem solving by generating mutually advantageous proposals, confronting disagreements in a productive way, utilizing scientifically sound information, and considering a range of possible solutions;

     (4)  Reaching agreement on the most important interests of all concerned; and

     (5)  Holding participants to their commitments.

     (b)  The center for conservation research and training shall coordinate the implementation of the ocean health consensus project to build community-based consensus in Hawaii for managing ocean ecosystem resources.

     SECTION 3.  There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $      , or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2007-2008, for the center for conservation research and training to develop, implement, and coordinate an ocean health consensus project to build community-based consensus in Hawaii for managing ocean ecosystem resources.

     The sum appropriated shall be expended by the University of Hawaii for the purposes of this Act.

     SECTION 4.  This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2007.