With all the recent brouhaha over shark tours, there are legitimate questions over whether these tours are conducted legally.
According to the Star-Bulletin:
Two tours — North Shore Shark Adventures and Hawaii Shark Encounters — operate three to four miles off of the North Shore in federal water, outside of the state’s jurisdiction. Anyone found to be using food, such as chum, to attract sharks in federal waters without the intention of fishing could face a fine of up to $140,000.
Complaints are investigated by agencies that include the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Marine Fisheries Service. So far, there have been no documented violations since the shark-feeding regulation became effective in November 2006, said Tosatto.
No documented violations?
You’ve got to wonder. Aren’t photos of sharks being fed by tour operators, like the one used to illustrate the S-B story, evidence that appears to document violations?
And how about video as evidence? If you check out YouTube and search for words like hawaii, shark, and feeding, you’ll find a whole slew of video evidence of illegal feeding of sharks by those North Shore tours. Chunks of fish are thrown into the water or hand fed directly to individual sharks. In one video I watched yesterday, a customer asked the tour folks to throw some food down around the cage so that they would get some extra shark action. The only complaint was that their video was taken from the boat and not from underwater.
Isn’t it time for those state and federal enforcement authorities to examine some of this photo/video evidence and, at minimum, let tour operators know in no uncertain terms that these practices are illegal under existing laws?
Did you catch the Hawaii connection with the U.S. Supreme Court case of a 13-year old girl who was strip searched by officials in an Arizona school. Oral arguments in the case were held last week.
When the case went to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, a three-judge panel initially ruled the school was justified and the search was constitutional, an opinion overturned when the issue was reconsidered by a larger panel.
According to a reader:
…the Savana Redding vs. School District case that is now in the US Supreme Court (on whether it is constitutional to make a 13 year old girl remove her clothes so she can be searched for “prescription strength” ibuprofen) originated in the Ninth Circuit in an opinion from Judge Richard Clifton, Hawaii’s only member of that Court.
Judge Clifton wrote the opinion holding that the search was permissible. Of course, his daughter attended Punahou School, where the State would have had no power to strip search her. However, for the proles in the public schools, strip searches of 13 year old girls are fine by Judge Clifton.
Rick Clifton was a Chair of the Hawaii Republican party and was appointed by George W. Bush to the Ninth Circuit of Appeals in 2001, a week before 9/11. Here is his wikipedia link.
Wikipedia notes that he upheld the imprisonment of journalist Josh Wolf, so perhaps his decision in Redding was predictable. (Of course, compared to one of George W. Bush’s other appointees to the Ninth Circuit — Jay Bybee — who supports waterboarding and other forms of torture as legal, searching inside a thirteen year old girl’s bra and panties seems prety tame).
In any event, I think it is sad that our progressive State of Hawaii has as its only representative on the largest federal couirt of appeals a person with such a cramped view of civil liberties.
Checking back, the Clifton connection was noted early on by the Supreme Court of Hawaii Blog (Unofficial).
I still find lots of Hawaii-relevant stories coming out of the Pacific Northwest, like this Seattle Times story on attempts to regulate “megahomes” that are changing the character of local neighborhoods. Or how about this column about research into why large public works projects seem to always exceed their budgets?
And political junkies might be interested in this assessment of term limits, although it’s not from the NW.