Whale sanctuary plans draw criticism over care

Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Thursday, May 2, 2002

By Gary T. Kubota

WAILUKU >> Native Hawaiian Kahu Charles Maxwell said he is upset about the way a dead pygmy sperm whale was dumped last weekend at the Puunene landfill in Central Maui without the benefit of a cultural blessing.

The whale, which washed ashore Saturday at Oneuli Beach in South Maui, is part of the spiritual essence of the ocean and should have been returned to the ocean, said Maxwell.

"It's really upsetting. Nothing was done for Hawaiian culture," he said.

A number of criticisms are arising about the care of whales, as a series of statewide meetings is under way about a revised management plan for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

Public meetings are scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m.:

>> Today, Kihei Community Center, South Maui.
>> Tomorrow, Radisson Kauai Beach Resort, Ginger Room.
>> Wednesday, King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel, Kamakahonu Ballroom.
>> Next Thursday, Naniloa Hotel, Hilo.
>> May 21, Lanai Public Library.
>> May 22, Molokai, Mitchell Pauole Center.

Maxwell, who has worked as a cultural specialist for the Maui Ocean Center, said the proposed management plan lacks ideas on how to handle whales that beach themselves and how to treat them in a culturally sensitive way.

Greg Kaufman, president of the nonprofit Pacific Whale Foundation, said the proposed management plan is narrow in its scope and fails to evaluate enforcement procedures, the boundaries of the sanctuary and inclusion of other species in the sanctuary.

Kaufman said too little of the $1.2 million annual budget for the sanctuary was spent on research and education.

He said to avoid duplication and additional government expenses, he would like to see the sanctuary combined with efforts to preserve the reefs northwest of Hawaii.

Acting sanctuary manager Naomi McIntosh said she is not going to respond to the criticisms at this time but wants to listen to the suggestions made by different groups and individuals.

She said the sanctuary will be looking at whether it has the authority and money to implement the ideas.

Sanctuary officials say that for more information about the management plan, the public may view the Web site at www.hihwnms.nos.noaa.gov/planreview/hihw/sanctuarydraft.html or call 397-2653 on Oahu.

© 2002 Honolulu Star-Bulletin

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