by Ron Tubbs, RT Distributors
Thanks to the State Supreme Court's September 6, 2017 aquarium fishing decision, all ocean users now face the same fate as aquarium fishers--shut down awaiting an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The process is already beginning. Maui News November 23, 2017 reports, “Lawsuit calls for study of tour boat operations off Kaanapali -- Groups seeking an injunction to halt activities until the impact is assessed.”
A full EIS under the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act (HEPA) can take years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in consultants’ costs and fees. In addition, an EIS document is usually thousands of pages and must be reproduced for public distribution. Practitioners in the business of preparing EIS documents have seen them grow significantly in scope and size since HEPA was first passed in 1974.
At the top of the list will be eating fisheries, shark tours, dolphin and whale tours. They will cost hundreds of thousands for each tour group --if they are lucky enough to get the whole industry combined-- if not it will be $200,000 per operator and years of litigation.
HEPA is flawed and now we will face more and more of these expensive unnecessary lawsuits. DLNR has been doing a great job regulating these groups. These highly regulated permits should be exempt which is what the law actually states. (See: DLNR exemption list)
Lawyers inform me that any one person can sue DLNR to make all users apply for permits--basically shutting down every ocean user permit until HEPA is done.
The state legislature and the Governor need to step up and introduce a law to correct this miscarriage of justice--improperly ruled by the state Supreme Court--before the legalistic gates of hell are opened up.
September, 2017: Supreme Court: Aquarium Fisheries Sacrificed on Altar of Tourism
October, 2017: Judge Invalidates Aquarium Collectors Permits