LIHUE — For a second time Rep. Daynette Morikawa is asking the state to delay its planned rat eradication project on Lehua Island until the public has answers to critical environmental questions.
Morikawa sent a letter on Aug. 2 to Suzanne Case, Chair of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, and to Scott Enright, Chair of the state Board of Agriculture, asking the state to delay the project until questions from “many of my constituents — including environmentalists, fishers, tour boat operators and others” are answered.
In response, Case said in an Aug. 8 letter that all community questions have been addressed in their Environmental Assessment and the project will move forward as soon as needed permits are obtained.
“The state needs to take this issue seriously,” Morikawa said. “The effects of rat poison in the waters around Lehua Island can have serious consequences for aquatic life including the coral reef, the endangered monk seal and green sea turtle, and fish near the island. This can directly affect the lives and livelihoods of area residents.”
Morikawa is again asking state officials to hold a public meeting to directly answer the questions about the project.
A public meeting to discuss the project was held July 25 at the Waimea Center on Kauai, but in her letter Case said, “It is regrettable that the decorum of the public meeting on July 25 did not allow for a productive question and answer session.”
“People are angry and they want answers,” said Morikawa. “Just because one meeting got a little rowdy doesn’t mean the state should just give up on public transparency and protecting our natural resources.”
Morikawa said the project was scheduled to begin this week but has been postponed until all permits have been issued. The Department of Agriculture issues the needed permits and Chair Enright has not yet officially responded to her letter. Although Enright has postponed the project, we are not sure about what happens next, Morikawa said.
“Chair Case says this rat poisoning project is safe and all questions have been answered in the EA. If that is true hold a public meeting and explain it to the public. That is the state’s responsibility,” Morikawa said.