The new ocean conservation-oriented laws come to offset the “unprecedented” challenges brought on by declining ocean populations, climate change, heatwaves, coral bleaching, and greater man-made water pollution.
This week, Governor David Ige signed into law nine bills meant to safeguard Hawaii’s marine resources on World Oceans Day.
The American politician and engineer noted that Hawaii is facing “unprecedented” challenges from declining ocean populations, climate change, heatwaves, coral bleaching, and greater man-made water pollution.
The new laws are tied to Ige’s Honomua: Marine 30X30 Initiative that calls for protecting at least 30% of the most sensitive nearshore waters by 2030.
Bill to protect sharks
One of the bills signed by the eighth governor of Hawaii into law relates to shark protection. House Bill 553, the measure, which becomes law on 1 Jan 2022, will make Hawaii a marine sanctuary for more than 40 species of sharks that frequent state waters.
The bill, introduced by Representative Nicole Lowen and supported in the Senate by Senator Mike Gabbard makes capturing, killing or entangling any shark in state waters illegal.
The new legislation will put an end to shark trophy hunting charters, the capture of baby sharks for the aquarium pet trade and the intentional killing or mutilation of sharks for their teeth, jaws or other parts.
“On this World Oceans Day, Hawaii again shows great leadership in grappling with the threats and challenges our precious marine environments face,” Ige said.
“I deeply appreciate the legislature’s support of these measures which collectively advance protection, management, and stewardship of ocean resources well into the future.”
Academy award-winning actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio welcomed the news. Taking to Instagram, he wrote:
“Good news… Governor David Ige signed House Bill 553 to create a sanctuary for sharks within Hawaii’s state waters.
“With shark populations declining globally and 3/4 of all shark species possibly facing extinction, this bill is critical to ocean health and resiliency. “
‘Great day for the ocean’
Apart from the shark-protection legislation, eight other related bills focusing on ocean conservation, resource management, regulation and enforcement were also passed.
“This is a great day for the ocean. I share Gov. Ige’s concern for the ocean, and particularly the climate change impacts and the need to act now,” State Board of Land and Natural Resources Chair Suzanne Case said.
“We’re watching our coral reefs disappear after repeated coral bleaching events.
“We see our shorelines inundated by high tides and storm surges washing away our sandy beaches, more frequent and severe storm events…and our near-shore systems in Hawaii are threatened by illegal and unsustainable fishing practices, invasive species, sewage and land-based pollution.”
She added: “I want to add our thanks to leadership in both the house and the senate who were instrumental in passage of seven of the administrative bills proposed by the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources.
“This was certainly one of the most ocean conservation-oriented legislative sessions in decades, and these measures will bring us that much closer to realizing the goals of Governor Ige’s Honomua: Marine 30X30 Initiative.”
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