Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u Calendar News Briefs Friday, Jan. 1, 2016

Ka`u residents can enjoy the outdoors during free programs at the Kahuku Unit of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park this New Year's holiday weekend. See more below. NPS Photo by Michael Szoenyi
FOLLOWING A 120-DAY EMERGENCY RULE that had temporarily banned all harvesting of sea cucumbers in Hawai`i, Gov. David Ige yesterday signed a measure that severely limits collection of sea cucumbers. “The DLNR worked quickly to stop the mass harvesting of sea cucumbers, and then to develop and propose permanent rules,” Ige said. “This action is expected to protect and sustain critically important sea cucumber populations in our near-shore waters.”
      The permanent rule bans any large-scale commercial harvesting of sea cucumbers. It will take effect on Jan. 10.
Hawai`i adopted a permanent rule banning large-scale commercial harvesting
of sea cucumbers. Photo from wikipedia
      Harvesting spiked earlier when collectors virtually cleared some near-shore waters on Maui and O`ahu of the creatures, which are considered the “vacuum cleaners of the ocean.” DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “Under the law now in effect, licensed aquarium collectors are allowed to harvest two species of sea cucumbers from O`ahu waters only, with a 20-per-day maximum and an annual take of no more than 3,600 for the entire commercial fishery. These numbers are based on data collected over many years and is expected to be sustainable.”
      Case added, “The rules allow a small level of take for personal, non-commercial use. We will continue to monitor the sea cucumber population over the next few years to determine whether we’ve correctly set the harvest at sustainable levels, and if not, whether we need to make adjustments in the future.”
      Sea cucumber populations across the Pacific and elsewhere have been decimated by large-scale commercial harvesting. These rules were approved by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources on Dec. 11, 2015 after a series of statewide hearings. Prior to implementation of the 120-day emergency rule, Hawai`i did not have any regulations regarding sea cucumber harvesting. This was the first time that mass harvesting happened in Hawaiian waters, and once the state became aware of the issue, it acted swiftly to investigate and to get permanent rules into place.
      Dr. Bruce Anderson, Administrator of DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources, said, “I’m very proud of the work DAR and the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement did to address this issue so quickly. Without this prompt action, the short-lived, mass harvest of sea cucumbers could have been an ecological disaster for the sea cucumber and its role in the health of Hawai`i’s coral reefs. 
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HAWAII MEDICAL SERVICE ASSOCIATION is notifying about 10,800 members that it mistakenly sent care management letters to incorrect addresses. 
      The misrouted letters did not contain financial information, Social Security numbers, HMSA membership numbers, birth dates, claims information or medical histories. The letters did include member names and steps they could take to identify and manage certain health conditions, such as asthma, diabetes and lung and heart disease.
      The letters were sent to wrong addresses between April and November. HMSA identified the discrepancy on Dec. 3, 2015, and has taken immediate steps to correct it.
      Members are encouraged to visit hmsa.com/media-center to see copies of the letters. Members who have questions about this mailing can visit an HMSA Center or office. They can also call 800-459-3963 toll-free from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
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“WHAT DO ACTOR MEL GIBSON, football quarterback Eli Manning and Kilauea Volcano’s ongoing East Rift Zone eruption at Pu`u `O`o have in common?” Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists ask in the current issue of Volcano Watch. “They all share the same birthday!” 
      “In fact, Jan. 3, 2016, marks the 33rd anniversary of the start of the Pu`u `O`o eruption. While many people likely wish Mel and Eli a long life on their birthdays, Island of Hawai`i residents who live downslope from Kilauea’s persistent lava flows might not wish the same for Pu`u `O`o.
      “After an unsettling 2014 and early 2015, when lava flows loomed above Pahoa, the focus of Kilauea’s surface activity shifted closer to Pu`u `O`o. This change, which occurred last March, allowed life in the island’s lower Puna District to return to some semblance of normalcy.
      “It’s important to remember, though, that the June 27th lava flow, the source of great stress from August 2014 to March 2015, remains active and continues to feed breakouts over a broad area up to about six kilometers (four miles) northeast of Pu`u `O`o. This means that surface flows are still active upslope from Puna communities.
The Nov. 25, 2015 breakout that began as a rupture from the tube supplying
the June 27th lava flow reached the forest northeast of Pu`u `O`o in mid-
December, but still poses no threat to communities.
Photo from USGS/HVO
      “But this scenario is better than many past ones. The eruption rate remains quite low – only about half as much lava is erupting now compared to a decade ago. It also repeatedly fluctuates in response to changes in summit pressurization.
      “One apparent consequence of these factors, probably combined with the gentle ground slope northeast of Pu`u `O`o, is the general inability of the disparate breakouts to organize into a single coherent flow. If these breakouts were to become organized, the flow would likely begin to advance downslope once again.
      “Instead, the few dozen small breakouts scattered across the flow field at any one time have repeatedly covered the same broad area. For example, during periods of increased discharge, any lava that breaks out can creep forward for days or weeks, filling in low spots on the flow field. But when the output falls to a level too low to support the lava’s continued advancement, the breakout dies.
      “This lava flow behavior is much like that recorded throughout 2013 and 2014, prior to the onset of the June 27th flow, when active lava was in roughly the same area as it is now. Today’s activity is also reminiscent of the behavior observed during late 2014 and early 2015, when the flow front at the edge of Pahoa Marketplace widened but failed to advance. 
      “The relatively steady, non-threatening behavior of the June 27th lava flow in recent months has been a welcome relief. The most significant deviation from this behavior began on Nov. 25, when a large breakout from the lava tube on the flank of Pu`u `O`o sent lava to the north.
      “This new flow lobe reached the forest north of Pu`u `O`o in mid-December. It has since been traveling northeast along the northern edge of the existing flow field. About 40 percent of the lava erupting from the vent feeds this lobe.
      “But for now, there’s no reason for Puna communities to worry. The breakout still has a few kilometers (about a mile) to go before it surpasses the most distal breakouts on the flow field. Assuming the flow lobe remains active, it will likely take weeks before lava reaches beyond other currently active breakouts.
      “USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists expect that this advancing lobe will eventually merge with and acquire the same stop-and-go behavior as other flows in the area but are closely monitoring it. We will continue to report the lobe’s progress and all other Kilauea activity through daily eruption updates posted on the HVO website (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php).
      “We wish you all the best in the New Year and hope to see you at one of the many presentations offered by HVO scientists during Volcano Awareness Month in January. Coming up this next week are two talks about Kilauea’s ongoing eruptions – first in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park on Jan. 5, then repeated at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo on Jan. 7. Details are posted on the HVO website (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov), or you can email askHVO@usgs.gov or call 967-8844 for more information.
      “Also, happy birthday wishes to Mel, Eli, and the Pu`u `O`o eruption!”
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A volunteer with Stewardship at the Summit clears ginger choking out
a native kolea lau nui tree. Photo from NPS
KA`U RESIDENTS WHO RESOLVED to spend more time outdoors in the New Year can participate in free programs at Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park this weekend. 
      Stewardship at the Summit tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. invites volunteers to help cut invasive ginger on trails. Participants meet at Kilauea Visitor Center. Park entrance fees apply.
      At the Kahuku Unit, participants explore the area’s rich geologic history during the Birth of Kahuku, tomorrow from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. People & Lands of Kahuku on Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. is a guided, 2.5-mile, moderately difficult hike over rugged terrain focusing on the area’s human history. Kahuku Unit does not charge entrance fees.


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