Dear Representative Sylvia Luke and Members of the Finance Committee,
I support SB2764 WITH AMENDMENTS. The SMA laws were intended to protect shoreline areas, but instead, they are keeping cultural practitioners from conducting their traditional and customary practices, which are protected Hawaiian rights under the State Constitution.
We believe it is remiss of the state to pass this measure without affording cultural practitioners the same exemptions that are being offered to private homeowners and conservation projects. Practitioners are the land’s first stewards and protectors, but as usual, we are excluded by environmentalists who have no consideration for our traditional practices or rights.
This law has been used to target traditional agricultural practices, traditional aquaculture practices, education programs, and research activities. In 2012, fishpond practitioners mobilized to streamline permitting for fishponds to stop the overregulation of traditional and customary practices. This program has allowed for the substantial growth in fishpond activities, stewardship, and associated traditional practices.
This overreaching use of this law threatens those important efforts.
We urge the financial committee to add the requested exclusions for traditional and customary practices, traditional agricultural practices, associated education and research activities.