It occurred to me, gazing out on a beach strewn with white coral, white clouds scuttling overhead where albatrosses with their plump white bodies soared, white boobies dive bombing into spraying, bubbling, frothing white and flying the inside lip of a wave like specks of white foam, that Kauai does, indeed, have its own version of a white winter wonderland. It just happens to be a warm one.
Contrast that scene of beauty, harmony and wildlife splendor with the news that yet another monk seal — the third in two weeks — has been found dead on Molokai. Auwe. Something's obviously up. Someone's obviously really, really angry, and my guess is that it's about a lot more than the seal. Some serious outreach needs to be done, and not by NOAA or DLNR, but by residents of that island who do care about the seals. And NOAA needs to stop and think about whether it's really such a good idea to press forward with critical habitat and relocation proposals given the extreme hostility toward seals right now.
Yes, I and others know that a critical habitat designation won't hinder fishermen or people using the beach, that it affects only projects developed with federal funds and it can actually help to preserve shoreline access and protect the nearshore marine environment, which ultimately benefits fishermen and ocean users. But a lot of other people don't know that. Until they do, best to back off. And like I said in Tuesday's post, it's time to return resource management to local communities as opposed to top down directives, especially from the "dreaded feds."
In response to Tuesday's post, which raised the issue of whether monk seals are native to the Main Hawaiian Islands, I got an email with this comment:
[B]asking seals even more than flightless geese are easy prey, and like the moa nalo and so many of the other flightless birds, would have disappeared from the archaeological record very very early. In the case of moa nalo, so early that its name unlike the `ilio holo i ka uaua, [monk seal]was lost and had to be supplanted by "lost fowl." Virtually all the fossil moa nalo have been found in dunes, sandstone layers and sinkholes, not in archaeological sites.
It went on to cite a reference in the Federal Register:
Human settlement appears to have largely excluded monk seals from the MHI, although seal bones have been found at archeological sites dating from 1400 - 1700 (Rosendahl, 1994). In 1900, Hilo residents reported that solitary monk seals were seen in the area about once every 10 years (Bailey, 1952). From 1928 to 1956, seven monk seal sightings were documented in the MHI (Kenyon and Rice, 1959), and Niihau residents reported that seals appeared there in the 1970s.By 1994 there was a small naturally-occurring population of male and female monk seals in the MHI. This population appeared to be growing, and at least six pups had been born (one in 1962, and five between 1988 and 1993). Since the mid-1990s, an increasing number of documented sightings and annual births of monk seal pups have occurred in the MHI. Combined aerial and ground surveys in the MHI counted 45 hauled-out monk seals in 2000, and 52 in 2001 (Baker and Johanos, 2004). Sightings in the MHI tallied 77 individually identifiable monk seals in 2005 (NMFS, 2007b), and 83 in 2006 (NMFS, 2008a). Together, these observations suggest that monk seals are recolonizing the MHI.
So like someone else said, can't we all get along? Rather than slaughter seals because you fear they're taking too much fish, why not restore the fish ponds that Hawaiians built? Rather than impose regulations and restrictions, why not provide local communities with support to meet their subsistence and recreational fishing needs?
In other words, why not look at the big picture, and act accordingly?
Speaking of the bigger picture, I've gotta commend Chad Blair at Civil Beat for keeping the spotlight on the incredible injustice being done to Roger Christie. For those who don't know the name, Roger is the guy who has been in the face of local, state and federal officials for a couple of decades now, pressing the envelope — and law enforcement buttons — by challenging marijuana laws, most recently by operating the THC Ministry in Hilo.
Now they're getting their revenge by locking his ass in federal prison without bail for 17 months because he's a supposed “danger to the community.”
Come on, let's get real. Roger, one of the kindest, most sincere guys I've ever met, is not a danger to the community. But they're keeping him in lock down to make an example of him because Roger most definitely is a danger to the mind-set that wants to perpetuate the fiction that marijuana is a societal scourge that should be strictly outlawed.
Or at least until the feds can make money off it by granting an exclusive cannabinoid license to a pharmaceutical firm:
"We find it hypocritical and incredible that on the one hand, the U.S. Department of Justice is persecuting cannabis patient associations, asserting that the federal government regards marijuana as having absolutely no medical value, despite overwhelming clinical evidence," said Union of Medical Marijuana Patients director James Shaw. "On the other hand, the Department of Health and Human Services is planning to grant patent rights with possible worldwide application to develop medicine based on cannabis."
But hypocrisy is rampant in federal government, which is why, as Chad also reported, a Honolulu police captain accused of selling meth, as well as extortion, tampering with a witness, making false statements and taking payments for giving illegal game room operators tips before raids, remains free on bail while Roger languishes in jail. Heck, they won't even let him have a prayer blanket made of hemp!
Now which do you, as an intelligent, reasonable person, think is a bigger threat to society: a guy openly distributing weed as part of a ministry, or a really dirty cop peddling ice?
The difference, however, is clear: Roger is trying to tear down the wall. The cop, on the other hand, is part of the wall. And that's why Roger's still in jail, but the cop isn't.