Thousands of plant and animal species are unique to Hawaii
and found nowhere else on the globe. What is your plan to ensure
that this biodiversity is protected both now and for future
The vast array of flora and fauna on the Hawaiian Islands are
a major draw to visitors; tourism is the state's number one
industry. In addition, forests serve as natural sponges, collecting
water and facilitating its path into the watershed system. Native
plants and animals are also studied for their medicinal applications.
Hawaii's agriculture is also dependent on healthy forest watersheds,
and native plant species have been hybridized with commonly
used plants to produce stronger crops. Protecting the Hawaii's
ecosystems and biodiversity is central to ensuring that the
state's natural treasures are available for future generations
For more information, contact www.tnc.org/infield/State/Hawaii/.
Do you support strengthening the Endangered Species Act
as a means of better protecting declining populations of plants
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was designed as a means of
counteracting the alarming rate of species extinction. Since
its passage in 1973, more than 1,000 endangered or threatened
plant and animal species have been awarded federal protection.
Although Hawaii occupies only 0.2 percent of the land area of
the United States, nearly 75% of the nation's documented plant
and bird extinctions were Hawaiian species. Unfortunately, growing
pressure from special interest groups, such as oil, timber,
mining and livestock interests, threatens to weaken the ESA.
Future elected officials will have a say in whether this important
conservation act will continue to safeguard our nation's plant
and animal diversity, or whether it will be weakened to incorporate
the wishes of the special interests who view it as too costly
Off the coasts of Hawaii, fishers' longlines often snag
endangered species, particularly whales, sea turtles and seabirds.
Would you support increased funding for additional observation
staff to help ensure that these species are protected?
An observation staff is responsible for the monitoring and
limiting of longline-marine life interactions. However, the
National Marine Fisheries Service recently decreased the observation
staff to a statistically insignificant 1 percent. With so few
observers remaining (two out of the previous 14), it is uncertain
what the effect will be on endangered species populations, particularly
leatherback sea turtles. After being hooked on longlines, turtles
not discovered in time may die as a result of injury or drowning.
The current estimate is that between 114 and 231 leatherbacks
are hooked while migrating to and Hawaii annually, though not
all are from the Costa Rica subpopulation. The Pacific sub-population
of leatherbacks that nest on the western coast of Costa Rica
are predicted to be biologically extinct within the decade.
By 2004, the Costa Rican subpopulation is predicted to fall
below 50. As the species divides its time between Costa Rica
and Hawaii, it is Hawaii's responsibility to see that they do
their part to ensure the turtles' survival. If action isn't
taken soon to help protect these and other marine animals, yet
another species will fall prey to man-caused extinction.
For more information, contact www.planet-hawaii.com/environment/index.html.
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