Biologists to US: Keep your Word on Kaho’olawe

The Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation, meeting in Honolulu, has passed a resolution “expressing concerns” about the U.S. failure to completely clear unexploded ordinance from the island of Kaho’olawe and to restore the island’s habitat.

“When President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed Executive Order 10436 reserving the right of the US military to use Kaho‘olawe as a training facility, it clearly stated several obligations including the “eradication of cloven hooved animals” and, upon return of the island to Hawai‘i, to “render such area…reasonably safe for human habitation, without cost to the Territory.” These obligations have not been met. Initial funds were allocated by Congress only after considerable lobbying by former Sen. Daniel Akaka,” noted the organization’s press release, which added,  ” These funds ($400 million), meant to rid the island of unexploded ordnance, fell woefully short of the amount necessary to meet Pres. Eisenhower’s promise.  The Navy cleared ordnance from 75 percent of the land’s surface, not the 100 percent agreed upon. Furthermore, the Navy was to clear ordnance from 25 percent of the ground subsurface, to a depth of four feet; however, only 9 percent has been cleared.  Even this does not address the restoration of the destroyed native Hawaiian ecosystems.”

“The failure of the military to remediate and restore the island indicates the continued failure of the US government to fulfill its commitments, particularly when it comes to the rights of indigenous peoples,” stated by Jose MV Fragoso, Co-Chair of the ATBC Conservation Committee.

The organization also pointed out that “Native Hawaiians are being denied meaningful involvement in the process because funding and oversight of the island is still held by the State, not by the cultural group that succeeded in getting the island returned, nor by the people for whom the island is being held in trust. “


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