STAND. COM. REP. NO. 1517
RE: S.C.R. No. 219
Honorable Ronald D. Kouchi
President of the Senate
Thirty-Second State Legislature
Regular Session of 2023
State of Hawaii
Your Committee on Water and Land, to which was referred S.C.R. No. 219 entitled:
"SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION REQUESTING THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES ADOPT ADMINISTRATIVE RULES REGULATING VESSEL SPEED NEAR HUMPBACK WHALES,"
begs leave to report as follows:
The purpose and intent of this measure is to request the Department of Land and Natural Resources to adopt administrative rules regulating vessel speed near humpback whales.
Your Committee received testimony in support of this measure from the Hawai‘i Reef and Ocean Coalition and Environmental Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i. Your Committee received testimony in opposition to this measure from the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hone Heke Corporation, and one individual. Your Committee received comments on this measure from the Matson Navigation Company, Inc. and Hawai‘i Harbors Users Group.
Your Committee finds that the majestic and well-beloved humpback whale is not only an endangered species but the official marine mammal of the State. However, as humpback whale populations have slowly recovered, their increasing numbers have led to more frequent collisions with vessels. In response, in 2022, representatives from the Pacific Whale Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, State of Hawaii, tour operators, private boaters, fishers, and other community members, collaborated to develop a set of voluntary recommendations intended to keep both whales and whale watchers safe. This measure requests the Department of Land and Natural Resources to adopt those voluntary recommendations as administrative rules, to reaffirm the State's commitment to protecting and preserving the humpback whale.
Your Committee has amended this measure by:
(1) Inserting language clarifying that the Department of Land and Natural Resources is requested to adopt rules regulating vessel speed near humpback whales for vessels other than an inter-island vessel or an intra-island vessel, as defined in section 19-41-2, Hawaii Administrative Rules; and
(2) Making a technical, nonsubstantive amendment for the purposes of clarity and consistency.
As affirmed by the record of votes of the members of your Committee on Water and Land that is attached to this report, your Committee concurs with the intent and purpose of S.C.R. No. 219, as amended herein, and recommends its adoption in the form attached hereto as S.C.R. No. 219, S.D. 1.
Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committee on Water and Land,
LORRAINE R. INOUYE, Chair