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Letters for Monday, August 4, 2008

• The right to choose

• Slaughter to extinction

• More agroforestry needed

The right to choose

I was disgusted to read Casey Riemer’s comments in The Garden Island’s Sunday article entitled “Air tourism industry responds to demands.”

He said, “But we also have to provide the services that people enjoy. We’ve been doing it for 40 years and we’ll continue to do so in a respectful way. There’s no such thing as a totally quiet helicopter or motored airplane.”

Firstly, no one has to perform helicopter tour services. Where is this mandated? This is not a community service. If there were no helicopter tours, it would scarcely impact the island’s economy. Do you think people would give up coming to Kaua‘i because of that?

So, you have the right to choose who benefits and who pays the price for your business?

Tourists benefit, residents suffer. That’s shown in your statement that, in effect, you will continue to fly regardless of what the community wants.

Well, let me go park my car in front of your house and run my huge subwoofers at 150 decibels and see how you have quiet enjoyment of your property.

If there were only a few helicopters on this island or if tours were being done in, as you say, a respectful way, then there wouldn’t be this public outcry. But there are so many helicopters that the noise on popular routes is virtually incessant.

You say there’s no totally quiet helicopter? How is that our problem? That’s your problem that you insist on making it our problem.

Do you think anyone would care what you and your fellow operators were doing if you weren’t so intrusive on the quiet enjoyment of our otherwise peaceful homes and natural landscapes?

The reason this hasn’t been addressed effectively in the past is that the federal government has made the process of enforcement difficult if not impossible. So, you’ll create your organization and maybe things will get a little better for a few months, then it will be back to business as usual and nothing will be accomplished.

This has to stop now. I never thought I’d hear myself say this, but it has to be done with regulation. Voluntary cooperation is fleeting.

Phil Keat


Slaughter to extinction

As a new resident of Kaua‘i I have been reticent to write a “letter to the editor,” preferring to allow those with a longer history here discuss the issues — certainly with more intelligence and eloquence than I ever could.

And there are a multitude affecting the island — the Superferry, rental properties, new construction, road and traffic improvements, care for the environment — even whether or not to allow dogs on the coastal bike and pedestrian path.

But this is not a letter about any of that. What prompted me to write was a photo on the front page of Wednesday’s sports section.

It shows a man standing next to a 973-pound Pacific blue marlin hanging by its tail. The copy goes on to say that the marlin is “the second largest fish ever caught in the 49-year history of the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament.”

What really troubled me, however, was the comment of Robert Dudley, who caught the fish: “It’s a magnificent fish. What else can you say?”

Well, for one you could add “dead” to the sentence. It’s a magnificent dead fish.

This beautiful, female marlin will no longer swim free in the ocean. It will not reproduce. There will be no future progeny. Its destiny is to hang high and dry on somebody’s wall.

My question is, why couldn’t the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament have shown a little foresight and required that anglers not kill their catches but, instead, release them once photographs and measurements had been taken?

Sadly, the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament — sponsored, in part, by the county and state of Hawai‘i — seems to be well-behind the conservation curve.

In other parts of the world (Australia, for instance) very few anglers kill blue marlin — those that are caught are released. Additionally, Australia has had a tagging program in place for years to find out more about these great fish and whether or not fishing is depleting them to such an extent that they might not ever make a comeback.

Common sense dictates that if we continue the wholesale slaughter of animals, like the blue marlin, they will go the way of the countless other creatures man has hunted — mostly for sport — to extinction.

Is this really the legacy we want to leave to future generations? When are we Homo sapiens, stewards of our planet, going to finally stand up for the animals that are in our care? Animals that have no voice and can’t advocate for themselves? Animals that simply want to exist?

Steven McMacken


More agroforestry needed

Your Sunday paper featured two interesting headlines — “Pineapple in Hawai‘i may soon end” and “Scientists fear climate change tipping points.”

The first article described how a Hawai‘i agricultural company will respond to changes in its global markets.

Since pineapple export from Hawaii no longer make economic sense, Maui Land and Pineapple Co. will lay off workers and slash pineapple production, a scenario similar to sugar’s earlier decline that displaced thousands of workers and abandoned large arable tracts in Hawai‘i.

The second article outlined potentially disastrous impacts of global warming likely resulting from human activity; rises in temperature and sea level that will ultimately affect everyone everywhere.

But at least one solution could link these two separate issues; it’s possible to simultaneously put idle land to use and reduce our “carbon imprint” on the planet by simply planting trees.

Maui Pine now plans to follow a number of pioneering Hawai‘i landholders who have already done just that in recent decades.

Forestry projects create jobs and wealth. So rather than abandon its viable agricultural land, Maui Pine says it will plant hundreds of acres of high-value koa trees and diversify its crops.

The company will not only increase its chances of staying in business over the long term, but will also fix (trap) atmospheric carbon dioxide in its wood products. Using trees to remove carbon from air, even from a few hundred acres, helps in a small but finite way to stave off global warming. Planting trees on hundreds and thousands of landholdings multiplies this environmental benefit.

Besides eventually gaining value from harvesting its koa, Maui Pine may even be able to boost its bottom line by selling carbon credits to carbon emitters in an evolving global market that aims to reduce carbon pollution and reward carbon removal.

Investing in forests makes good economic sense in times of inflation because most costs are incurred at the beginning of forestry projects. So now might be an especially opportune time for more landholders to plant koa, mahogany and other valuable trees here in Hawai‘i.

Establishing more forestry and agroforestry projects can only help move us toward a more sustainable future.

John Edson



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