Monday, August 31, 2009

Hawaii - the Choice

Gene Ward has a choice.

He has been handed what is effectively a political slam-dunk.
He could step up and declare that his efforts have yielded the following results
  • The Law will be respected, as the Shark tour operators have agreed to abide by the Shark feeding ban and to facilitate its enforcement
  • The Shark tour Industry and millions in tourism income have been saved
  • A protracted and embarrassing fight that would tarnish the image of Hawaii has been averted
all of which would dovetail beautifully with the pragmatic, pro-business agenda of the GOP, and his personal involvement in the Small Business Caucus and Council.

Or, he could continue to allow other people to set the tone.
People like Fish killer and Shark hater Makani Christensen and the infamous Shark Task Force.
And people like this.

Did you hear that? From a state official?
In case you missed it, he has the chuzpah to pontificate about the "Ecological Impact" of Shark feeding!
His "concern" is "what does that (i.e. the feeding of Sharks) do to their population and what does that do to the parts of the ecosystem that they are supposed to be having an influence on".
The token expert, Mr. "no PhD" George Burgess trumpets into the same horn: "A third concern has been raised by environmentalists – how does daily shark feedings affect the ecological balance of Hawaiian waters? George Burgess, shark researcher at the University of Florida, ... fears that the feedings may attract so many sharks to those spots that sharks become scarce in other regions. This is naturally a large problem, since sharks are apex predators necessary for the overall balance of the ecosystems in which they exist."

Beg your pardon???
That's just stupid and hypocritical demagogy.
Here they go and whinge about an ecological non-event whilst ignoring the obvious Big Gorilla in the room, the wanton killing of Sharks by the commercial guys and the game fishermen.
That, and not two small Shark viewing operations, is what is depleting Shark populations and ultimately leading to the demise of Hawaii's reefs!

It's high time Mr. Honebrink started acting in line with the mission statement of the DLNR and made some real contribution towards "Enhancing, protecting, conserving and managing Hawaii’s unique and limited natural, cultural and historic resources held in public trust for current and future generations of visitors and the people of Hawaii nei in partnership with others from the public and private sectors."
That would also include taking on board the conclusions by the Meyer paper and stopping to stoke fears with populist and irrational arguments that have been amply disproved by scientific research!
And No, that paper has NOT been funded by the Shark viewing operators!
Guys, this is science, not politics!

But don't just trust me, an incendiary Industry insider.

Here's what a real Hawaiian got to say about this issue.
He's rightfully concerned about being attacked by the anti-Shark lynch mob and has asked me not to divulge his name. All I can tell you is that he's not in any way linked to the Industry and that he is highly respected and prominent!
This is part of a longer document applying "smell tests" to the various arguments thrown out by the anti-Industry propaganda - and yes, they stink!

BAN LOGIC #3: Shark tourism dangerously upsets the ecology of the ocean by changing the natural behavior of sharks.

: Sharks are undoubtedly vital to ocean ecology because of their role as apex predators. Because of their slow reproductive rates, sharks are not able to withstand any significant fishing effort. Shark populations in Hawaii, like shark populations around the world, appear to be declining.
  • In order to preserve the ocean ecosystem has this legislative body banned shark fishing?
  • Has it banned the sale and trans-shipment of sharks and shark products, such as fins?
  • Has it supported and promoted the Shark-Free Marinas Initiative?
  • Can this government body produce studies indicating that giving sharks small amounts of food disrupts their function as apex predators to a greater extent than does killing them?
SMELL TEST B: What has this government body done to address the major causes of marine ecosystem decline, including overfishing, overharvesting of marine ornamentals, terrestrial runoff, inadequate or nonexistent sewage treatment, overdevelopment of coastal areas, introduction and proliferation of exotic organisms, and overpopulation?

SMELL TEST C: Feeding of any wild or feral animal can be presumed to alter the functioning of the ecosystem in which that organism operates.
  • Has this government body banned bird feeders?
  • Has it banned the feeding of feral cats and turkeys?
  • Are laws and regulations that affect these activities enforced?
SMELL TEST D: While any effect on ocean ecology from the provisioning in small quantities of sharks is speculative, massive damage to terrestrial environments and to populations of endemic species has been demonstrated as a result of the introduction of pigs, goats, mongoose, and other terrestrial animals. These three organisms have been shown to be responsible for the extinction of numerous endemic animals and plants.
  • What has this government body done to effect the eradication of these proven damaging species?
SMELL TEST E: At various sites around Hawaii, people are feeding honu, or green sea turtles. In some cases, they are being fed fish, which is an unnatural food for these vegetarian creatures. In some cases they are being fed in marinas where the feeding attracts them into active boat channels and into areas frequented by tiger sharks, which feed on sea turtles. The turtles sometimes bite the hand that feeds them, resulting in some injuries.

are a prominent amaukua. It would seem that this activity combines a disrespect of Hawaiian culture and religion, a public safety hazard, presumed harm to the organism being fed, and presumed harm to the functioning of the natural ecosystem.
  • Have there been any hearings on this topic, proposed legislation by the bodies considering the shark tour ban, or action to enforce provisions of the Endangered Species Act that prohibit such activities?
ANTI-BAN LOGIC: The proposed shark tour bans are a non-logical response to a visceral fear of sharks induced largely by media hype, such as the programming on Discovery Channel’s Shark Week.
This is hysteria, and not good governance, as shown by the fact that the proposed bans affect only shark tours, and no similar activities.

Gene Ward would be well served in re-considering his associations.
Yes, I'm repeating myself!


Anonymous said...

Great post Mike! And have you also seen the recent articles in Undercurrent about the impact of the aquarium trade on Hawaii's reefs? UC readers are saying that you have to go way offshore just to find any fish and Hawaii's natural underwater world "aint pretty".

It's so irritating how some politicians would rather spend their energy diverting attention from the real problems than actually doing something productive.

DaShark said...

Thanks Mary

the guy obviously doesn't really know what he's talking about.

He has been hijacked by an anti-Shark lynch mob and by the self serving people of the Shark Task force.

He could be seen as smart, pragmatic, solution-oriented and conciliatory.
But the longer he waits before coming out and making unequivocal and reasoned statements, the more he risks being tainted with the same brush and looking like an irrational demagogue.

The Sharkman said...

Some politicians are so dumb that it amazes me how they ever got to office......and Gene Ward is one of them.

How is that saying....."Money talks and bullshit walks....."

Andrew Cumming said...

Indeed, money talks!

But in all fairness, being a politician doesn't necessarily imply being a Shark expert.
I just wish he would listen to the people in the know and not to the guys who managed to catch his ear with their irrational anti-Shark rubbish.

After all, Gene Wards want to enact a law - and if it is based on faulty premises and populist hearsay, it will end up being a real bad piece of legislation that will reflect badly on the people who enacted it.

I doubt Ward wants that to be his legacy - the more as he will certainly not be able to claim that he just didn't know better.