Fake Data Behind Coral Bleaching Report
by Makani Christensen
Living in Hawaii is expensive. Some might say almost impossible! Some might say if you cannot afford it--leave! Members of my family have moved to the ninth island, Las Vegas, where the cost of living is cheaper and there seems to be an abundance of jobs. Yet those of us that do hold on to these islands and our roots try to survive the best way we know how. For those of us that own nothing and continue to live paycheck to paycheck, fishing or hunting is a vital component of the basic means of survival. When we take away an individual's ability to hunt both in land and ocean, we effectively make it harder to make ends meet.
In Hawaii, there are many who constantly try to bring to an end our ability to feed people. The latest example was November 2, 2017, when a group of legislators orchestrated an informational conference on coral reef bleaching and overfishing. The conference was put together by Representative Kaniela Ing (Maui), Representative Cedric Gates (West Oahu), Representative Chris Lee (Waimanalo), and Representative Nicole Lowen (Kona). Why are these politicians making it harder to survive in Hawaii? Their goal is to create new laws and legislatively mandate closure of 30% of the Hawaiian Island near-shore waters. Taking into account the recent closures to the North West Hawaiian Islands, that is over 80% of what used to be fishing grounds and a food source to our local population.
There were many holes in the conference keynote lecture by Dr. Alan M. Friedlander. But the news picked up on it and made it out to be a life or death situation. According to Dr Friedlander, we have 90% less fish than in 1900. The amount of ulua is depleted, there are no more Oio, the stocks of Moi have plummeted. Over 50% of the reef in Hawaii is dead. This a real gloom and doom situation. So how do we keep fishing grounds open if it seems like all is about to be lost? Well we can first start with filling in the holes and fact checking the alleged research produced by Dr. Friedlander.
Dr. Friedlander stated in his discussion that there are 90% less fish in Hawaii based on commercial catch data since 1900. This statement stuck with news reporters and certain legislators. However, if you look at the data, there are certain events and situations that caused less fish to be caught by commercial fishermen. Dr. Friedlander chooses not to take into account that in the early 1900s Ahi, Aku, Marlin and other pelagic fish, were reported in the commercial reef fish data. Then they separated the pelagic and reef fish. This alone accounted most of the 90% decline. As a scientist, when talking about reef fish, this guy should have factored this in.
Then Dr. Friedlander also stated that the population of ulua dropped dramatically based on the commercial fish catches. Well another factor he did not take into account was Ciguatoxin, which accounted for the massive drop in the capture of Ulua.
On top of that he stated that there was a massive drop in Oio or bonefish. This too was based on commercial catch reports. Back in the day people loved eating oio, today not the same. The price of bonefish is not worth the time to commercial fishermen. Therefore the bonefish were not targeted.
Finally he talks about moi and how there was a missive drop in the population based on commercial catch reports. Again the laws changed, which eliminated that fishery.
What is the motive of Dr. Friedlander? Why would he report false data to legislators?
Dr. Friedlander also stated that he would like to see a permanent Marine Protected Area (MPA) where no fishing is allowed in order to protect the reefs. As a matter of fact, he would like to see no fishing on 30% of the coastline. Yet if you listened to the coral reef presentation by NOAA, they didn't even mention limits on fishing as a way to protect the reefs-Not Once!
The reef is really resilient. Most the 50% of reef that the scientists talk about has bounced back. I'm seeing it with my own eyes. Yet the news and legislators are making it seem like an all or nothing approach to protect the reefs. Not targeting the real causes of reef degradation--run off, sewage, and sedimentation--they picked alleged overfishing to fix the reef problem.
Where did the money for the 25,000 dive surveys come from? If you follow the money you will see that most of the funding comes from organizations that want to ban fishing alltogether.
Based on the sponsor list presented by Dr. Friedlander, the Nature Conservancy is a big contributor to this endeavor. It is ironic that organizations such as the Nature Conservancy would kill thousands of animals in the forest effectively taking food away from families making ends meet. Then they turn to the ocean to promote and create closures, which effectively deny access to our fishermen.
The politicians that allowed this fiasco to happen are responsible for creating laws that will take food away from families and make it harder to survive. It is already tough enough to survive in Hawaii, why are they making it more difficult? Must be an election year.