Conservation on display

LIHU‘E — Conservation on the U.S. Navy base at Mana encompasses a wide variety of areas on both land and sea, and John Burger is at the center of it all, said Tom Clements, the Pacific Missile Range Facility public affairs officer.

Recently, PMRF earned a prestigious national award for its efforts in the environmental stewardship arena, with a big focus on conservation of birds and sea turtles.

“John is at the center of all of that,” Clements said. “If it was not for his efforts, we might not have earned the honor. He takes care of everything.”

PMRF was one of 16 vendors that hosted exhibits at the first Conservation Awareness Day hosted by the Kaua‘i Conservation Alliance on Wednesday at the Lihu‘e Civic Center breezeway.

Craig Kaneshige of the U.S. Department of Agriculture explained the danger of both the varroa mite and small hive beetle, which are threats to the beekeeping and honey industry in Hawai‘i.

“Of the two, the small hive beetle is the more devastating,” Kaneshige told a visitor to the USDA booth, which had a specimen of the beetle.

“If a hive gets infected by the varroa mite, the honey can still be harvested. But if the small hive beetle gets in, everything is lost because the honey gets contaminated and unusable,” he said.

Gordon Labedz of the Surfrider Foundation unveiled the organization’s new T-shirt at his booth. The group will be participating at the Associated Students of the University of Hawai‘i-Kaua‘i Community College Earth Day celebration today from noon until 6 p.m.

On Saturday, Surfrider Foundation will be working with the Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park during its Earth Day project, where new picnic tables will be built and a general cleanup will take place.

Jean Souza, the Kaua‘i projects coordinator of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, said the primary focus of its Conservation Awareness Day was the proper size of fish to take for consumption.

“If it’s too big, it might be of prime reproductive age, and if it’s too small, it hasn’t reached prime reproductive maturity,” Souza said. “Either way, it affects the environment and future stock.”

Nina Monsasevitch, chair and co-founder of Kohola Leo, or the Whale Voice group, said it was organized after a lot of misinformation created confusion over the protection of the humpback whale and other marine mammals.

She said the mission of Kohola Leo is to ensure the protection of the whales and the ocean they call home.

Souza said the humpback whale sanctuary will host the annual Marine Fair in conjunction with the Hanapepe Public Library on June 16, with the addition of the Hanalei Watershed Hui, another group that had a display Wednesday.

“We’re going to have a mobile water quality lab as well as a plankton lab,” Souza said. “Additionally, with the help of some of the school teachers, people will have an opportunity to see live plankton under a microscope.”

Maka‘ala Ka‘aumoana of the Hanalei Watershed Hui said their main project is the installation of special warning displays featuring an O‘opu informing people that storm drains empty into the ocean.

“We’ve already talked to the county about this,” Ka‘aumoana said.

Other groups with exhibits included the Save Our Shearwaters Program, the Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project, Kaua‘i Seabird HCP Office, Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, Kaua‘i Invasive Species Committee, Koke‘e Resource Conservation Program, Kaua‘i Marine Mammal Response, Kaua‘i National Wildlife Refuge Complex and the Kaua‘i Forest Bird Recovery Project.

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