State Sen. Malama Solomon criticized the ongoing federal protection of humpback whales and said they should be removed from the endangered species list during a public meeting on the Big Island last month.
The chair of the Senate Water and Land Committee said that the humpback whale population has increased markedly in recent decades, causing problems for boaters and others who have to avoid hitting them. She also suggested that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration needs to back off from trying to exert authority over state waters where the whales swim.
Here is what Solomon said:
“When I started in the Legislature in the Ariyoshi administration, we had 1,000 whales going through our channels. ‘K, we are in control of those 3 million acres of water, the state of Hawaii is, not the federal government. We now have 20,000 whales that are going through our waters. You know, this poses a problem, poses a threat. We are an oceangoing state. We enjoy our marine waters. And right now, the way NOAA is set up you hit a whale, you are to blame. The whale is blameless. OK, I have a problem with that.”
(You can view the video of her comments, captured by Big Island Video News, below.)
Civil Beat has looked into three claims made by the senator: the humpback whale population has increased 20-fold, the state has jurisdiction over some 3 million acres of ocean around