Why, one might ask, would non-fishers who live in Kekaha and Kapaa begin advocating for a marine stewardship area off the Mahaulepu coast?
Well, when you consider that it's Gordon LaBedz, past president of Surfrider, a group staunchly opposed to the proposed dairy there, and Kalasara Setaysha, vice president of the whale advocacy group Kohola Leo, it's easy to connect the dots.
Though Gordon offers this rationale:
We picked the Maha'ulepu marine area because it is very windy and not used very much. Everything about this idea is non governmental. There is NO budget, no enforcement. It is a plan to bring the ocean user community together to see if there is agreement on limiting ourselves. If we can agree on little Maha'ulepu, maybe the idea might spread to other areas.
Southside kupuna Ted Kawahinehelelani Blake, who noted that none of those involved in the effort actually live in Koloa, isn't buying it:
Off the top, this looks like an anti-dairy initiative more than trying to preserve, protect and enhance the fisheries of Mahaʻulepu and Paʻa and the south shore.
This method of action is devious and upsetting. Coming thirteen ahupuaʻa away from his residence to cause pilikia in Koloa is a statement in itself. Reminds me of a line I heard by Val Kilmer in the movie Tequila Sunrise “I donʻt plant weeds in my yard so I can pull them.”
My attention was directed to four points that came to my mind after I read Mr LaBedz' meeting notice and his email thread:
- Is there a problem he is aware of here, that residents of Koloa know nothing about or is he just throwing his line out and hoping something bites the hoo?
- This is not place based but is driven by someone with poor and little knowledge of our area.
- Dumping his kukae in my yard then leaving, BAD MANNERS.
- Quote from his email, “We want the most passionate, opinionated fishermen we can find”. Why, cause empty cans make the most noise?
This type of irresponsible blow and go strategy has been going on too long.
Lyn McNutt then weighed in:
Ted pollution wise dairy is bad idea. Watershed already over acceptance levels and doesn't need more shit, so to speak. My parents lived in dairy country and leaks happened all the time.
More concerned about fact that DLNR and others do not try to do anything about development and water diversions. Far far more pressing issue even for fisheries. Offshore getting stressed and fishers get blamed. Easy group to target but not main cause of declines. Voluntary rules are possible without NOAA inspired Makai Watch. What we gonna watch? Sedimentation and pollution of reef from upstream pollution runoff from housing developments and lack of fresh water habitat due to water theft?
Though people like Lyn and Adam Asquith love to use inflammatory terms like “water theft” when talking about diversions, such as the recenty vandalized KIUC hydro diversion, the fact is that all the permitted stream diversions on Kauai are perfectly legal. What's odd is that Adam and his followers say nothing about the unpermitted diversions, like, say, the ones that Tom McCloskey created for landscaping purposes mauka of Kealia Kai.
Meanwhile, folks are continuing to take matters into their own hands. Just a few days ago, rocks were piled up to prevent water from flowing into an eastside irrigation ditch — one that is operating under a valid permit. Though no damage was done, farmers had their water flow temporarily disrupted.
As for attempts to stop the proposed dairy with claims it will pollute a “pristine” area at Mahaulepu — one that was cultivated in sugar for more than a century — Blake noted:
I trust the fact that 17 wastewater treatment plants, since the late 1980, with its 110 plus injection wells on the south shore, built from Lawaʻi Beach Resorts to the Hyatt Regency, specifically to handle sewage for all resort development, i.e., hotels, subdivisions, condos, townhouses and vacation rentals (all marketed and bought by malihini) have added to the bacterial counts on the entire south shore from Mahaʻulepu to Lawaʻi Kai will be discussed in depth too.
I am not convinced, after touring the dairy site three times, armed with questions that were addressed and answered to my satisfaction, that the dairy would wreak havoc on the kahakai like many assumptions already voiced. No tests has shown any evidence of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides (used by the sugar industry for over 100 years) in Mahaʻulepu Valley and throughout the entire ahupuaʻa of Paʻa and a majority of Weliweli too. As the soil is mostly clay in Mahaʻulepu Valley, one would expect to find evidence of the fertilizers and chem sprays in the ocean though that evidence never surfaced in the reports during the Dairy hysteria.
To prevent an Ag enterprise, on land classified as IAL [important ag lands] would be a “taking” and definitely require legislative action of at least 75% of the sitting legislature. Quite of a precedent for the Hawaiʻi Leg that is sure to be legally challenged by the Big 5.
The dairy, meanwhile, is continuing to slog through the EIS process that activists demanded — even though they rejected the draft EIS that found the dairy would have no impact.