The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Will Hawaii Ban Purposeful Killing and Abuse of Sharks and Rays?
House Bill 808, which outlaws the intentional killing, capture, abuse or entanglement of sharks and rays in state marine waters, passed its first committee meeting on Wednesday. The upper chamber version, Senate Bill 489, secured its first committee approval late last month and passed a second reading on Monday.
If the proposal becomes law, Hawaii could be the first state in the nation to have such sweeping protections for the marine creatures, according to the Guardian.
Penalties for a first offense would range from $500 and goes up to $10,000 for a third or subsequent offense, according to a press release. Exemptions are allowed for research, cultural practices and public safety.
The bills were re-introduced on Jan. 18 by state Sen. Mike Gabbard, who chairs the Senate Agriculture and Environment Committee, and state Rep. Nicole Lowen, who chairs the House Environmental Protection and Energy Committee.
Last year, a similar measure unanimously passed in the Senate but stalled in the House.
"As apex predators, sharks and rays help to keep the ocean ecosystem in balance, and protecting them from unnecessary harm is essential to the health of our coral reefs," Lowen said in the release. "I'm hopeful that this year will be the year that we are able to take this important step."
The measure has received support from people around the country, the Guardian reported, including Ocean Ramsey, a Hawaii-based marine biologist whose jaw-dropping photos with a massive great white shark went viral last month.
"These animals have been around for 450 million years, and during my lifetime so many of them will go extinct," she told the Guardian. "I want it to stop. It's not fair to them and it's not fair to future generations."
Hawaii already has one of the strongest anti-finning laws in the country. That law, which passed in 2010, also prohibits the possession of fins.
But the latest measure explicitly prohibits the intentional killing, capture, abuse or entanglement of sharks and rays, and also expands an existing prohibition on knowingly capturing or killing a manta ray to include all rays.
"Sharks (mano) and Rays (hihimanu) are key marine species, important to the resiliency of our oceans," Gabbard said in the release. "They deserve full protection under law from unnecessary killing or exploitation."
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
At EcoWatch, our team knows that changing personal habits and taking actions that contribute to a better planet is an ongoing journey. Earth Day, happening on April 22, is a great reminder for all of us to learn more about the environmental costs of our behaviors like food waste or fast fashion.
To offer readers some inspiration this Earth Day, our team rounded up their top picks for films to watch. So, sit back and take in one of these documentary films this Earth Day. Maybe it will spark a small change you can make in your own life.
On Friday, Seal Rescue Ireland released Sesame the seal into the ocean after five months of rehabilitation at the Seal Rescue Ireland facility. Watch the release on EcoWatch's Facebook.
By Jordan Davidson
Guinness is joining the fight against single use plastic. The brewer has seen enough hapless turtles and marine life suffering from the scourge of plastic.
People of all ages are spending more of their day looking at their phones, computers and television screens, but parents now have another reason for limiting how much screen time their children get — it could lead to behavioral problems.