By PETER SUR
Tribune-Herald staff writer
When voters on Nov. 6 approved the creation of a Game Management Advisory Commission, they added to the Hawaii County Charter a 128-word statement that explains the broad scope over which the commission is empowered to make recommendations.
“For the benefit of present and future generations,” the new charter language says, “the game management advisory commission shall advise County, State and Federal agencies on matters related to the preservation of subsistence hunting and fishing, as well as protecting traditional and cultural gathering rights.
“The commission may also advise County, State, and Federal agencies on any matter affecting the taking and conservation of aquatic life and wildlife, including proposed rules, and shall communicate its findings and recommendations to these agencies.
“The commission shall promulgate recommendations that conserve and protect the natural and cultural resources of Hawaii in furtherance of the self-sufficiency and long-term subsistence sustainability of aquatic life and wildlife in the County.
“The commission shall provide reports or legislative recommendations to the council as necessary, or at least quarterly.”
The nine-member commission will include one person from each of the nine council districts. Mayor Billy Kenoi is charged with appointing these members, and the County Council will approve them.
Char Shigemura, one of Kenoi’s executive assistants, on Thursday was assembling lists of all the boards and commissions that will have vacancies at the end of the year. Commissioners are appointed for staggered unpaid five-year terms, and those whose terms are expiring at the end of this year will create vacancies in a month and a half.
Shigemura wasn’t aware of any applications that have been filed for the board, but she knows several people from the hunting community have expressed interest in it.
Incoming council members can also help by recommending people, she said. She’s looking for as many qualified people as possible to be confirmed by the next council.
People interested in becoming a member of the Game Management Advisory Commission, or of any other board or commission, may download an application form from www.hawaiicounty.gov/boards-and-commissions-vacancy/.
Kenoi’s recommendation for each of the commissioners will then be forwarded to the County Council for approval. The commission may begin meeting as soon as a quorum of five commissioners is sworn in.
“We just want a good cross-section of people so that it’s a good balance,” Shigemura said. The commission will likely draw much interest from hunters and fishers, but it is open to all citizens.
The grass-roots push for a game advisory commission on the Big Island arose out of the need by hunters to have a local voice in the management of fish and game. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources claims jurisdiction over hunting issues, through its Division of Forestry and Wildlife, and over fishing issues, through the Division of Aquatic Resources.
Big Island hunters and the DLNR have disagreed before; one of the disputes culminated in the passage of a law by Hawaii County that bans aerial shooting of ungulates by helicopters. The DLNR, citing a federal mandate, has ignored the law.
Pat Pacheco, a prominent hunter who has been instrumental in the passage of the charter amendment, said the DLNR held a “secret meeting” in Papa‘aloa on Wednesday night to discuss hunting issues.
Pacheco and another hunter, Tony Sylvester, have a meeting scheduled with Kenoi next Monday to review some of the names that are being circulated to be on the commission. He has also heard from several County Council members that nominees will not face any major hurdles in getting confirmed. The confirmation of commissioners is usually a routine matter for the County Council.
“We’ve got to get it (the commission) going quickly so we can get solutions going so we can take to the Legislature to help us,” Pacheco said. He expects the commission to serve as the voice of hunters and fishers on the Big Island, to serve as a local counterweight to the DLNR. Pacheco said Kenoi has asked him to help recruit people interested on being on the commission.
Email Peter Sur at firstname.lastname@example.org.