PIJAC Note: PIJAC is pleased to republish the below editorial from the Hawaii Star-Advertiser. It advocates against Senate Bill 1240, a measure that through scientifically unsound means would ban aquarium fishing in Hawaii.
Aquarium bill needs reworking
Posted by Honolulu Star Advertiser on June 27, 2017
One function lawmakers fulfill is setting reasonable limits to human activities or government programs. The aim might be to maintain fair treatment under the law or, in the case of the ever-controversial aquarium-collections bill, to manage resources wisely.
Gov. David Ige has applied this principal correctly in setting up Senate Bill 1240 for a veto, a measure that places limitations that, the governor has correctly concluded, are unwarranted.
That bill was posted on Ige’s website along with 14 others on his “intent to veto” list. According to the governor’s description, it “requires the Department of Land and Natural Resources to define ‘sustainable’ and establish a policy for sustainable collection practices through take limits.”
It also would bar the department from issuing new aquarium fish permits authorizing the use of fine-meshed traps or fine-meshed nets. And it would prohibit the transfer of permits after five years.
These moves are essentially aimed at phasing out the industry through attrition, because as currently permitted aquarium-fish collectors leave the trade, new ones will not be able to enter.
DLNR, the agency tasked to define “sustainable” and thereafter establish take limits on the fishery, opposes the bill, its officials asserting that there is no basis for establishing the limits by a 2019 deadline set in the measure.
DLNR Director Suzanne Case said the department opposes the measure, “as we could not possibly establish catch limits for all reef species by 2019, and likely not for all aquarium fish species by 2019, and there is no biological basis to prohibit the issuance of new aquarium permits.”
A veto would acknowledge the need to justify such a categorical crackdown on an industry. The governor said more studies are needed for that step, and he’s right.
It might even be possible to manage the resource through less draconian means, such as setting a temporary “kapu” boundary prohibiting fishing in an area shown to be environmentally stressed, similar to limited restrictions set for other species in specific
But SB 1240 is not the measure to accomplish that.
Among the 200-plus bills not pegged for a veto are some that should be. One is an expanded tax credit crafted to benefit Pacific Shipyards International and its affiliated
company Navatek Ltd., which is being compelled to relocate from the former Kapalama Military Reservation. The governor should have been concerned that the provision is narrowly defined and could be found unconstitutional as special-interest legislation. It also sets a precedent
that other lessees on state property, who are legally compelled to relocate, might exploit.
Here are a few other noteworthy elements on Ige’s veto list:
>> It’s unfortunate that SB 562, requiring the state Attorney General’s Office to defend a county lifeguard against a civil action, made it through the Legislature in this flawed final form. This bill is trying to patch a bad situation of the legislators’ own making, when they failed to extend limited liability protection for county lifeguards on beaches. That limited immunity should not have been allowed to sunset on June 30.
>> Ige should reconsider his inclination to veto House Bill 1414, calling for an audit of the Department of Taxation’s tax-system modernization project. Given the department’s past record on mismanaging computer technology upgrades, an audit could help keep the effort on course.
>> Finally, it is gratifying, though not surprising, to see that Ige has sided with his collective-bargaining staff in opposition to SB 410, expanding the scope of negotiations. He rightly argues it constrains the state from effectively marshalling its workforce.
On balance, whenever a special session may be convened — and with few noted exceptions — most of Ige’s candidates for his veto pen deserve support — not an override by lawmakers.