The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will hold an online hearing next month to gather public comments on its proposal to establish time-area closures for certain areas where spinner dolphins frequent off the Hawaiian Islands.
The public hearing will be held online on December 9th, 2021 from 17:00 to 20:00 Hawaiian time, according to a notice published Tuesday:
“On September 28, 2021, [the National Marine Fisheries Service] proposed a regulation under the [Marine Mammal Protection Act] to establish mandatory time-area closures of Hawaiian spinner dolphins’ essential daytime habitats at five selected sites in the Main Hawaiian Islands. During designated times, unless subject to an exception as described in the proposed rule, these regulatory measures would prohibit any person or vessel, on or below the surface, to enter, cause to enter, solicit to enter, or remain within any of the five time-area closures, for the purpose of preventing take of Hawaiian spinner dolphins in areas identified as important essential daytime habitats for spinner dolphins. The proposed mandatory time-area closures would occur from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily in areas of Kealakekua Bay, H[omacr]naunau Bay, Kauhak[omacr] Bay (Ho’okena), and Makako Bay on Hawai’i Island, and La Perouse Bay on Maui.”
Needless to say, local freedivers aren’t exactly pleased and have started a petition opposing the proposal:
“This proposal runs counter to the Hawaiian state law that states you can not restrict access to the ocean. In addition, north island resort bays are not being closed including Kailua Bay and the green buoy just outside Honokohau harbor. The spinner dolphins rest there as well. So these resort areas may remain open to tourists, but they will destroy our shore access to all of our South Kona bays. Our Freediving areas will be decimated and unaccessible in these proposed restricted areas. This must be stopped.”
To sign the petition, go to ipetitions.com.
Instructions for how to attend the online meeting next month can be found here.