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October 16, 2003

 

Hawaii Ocean Safety Team

Membership Meeting Minutes

 

MINUTES

 


Sign-In

 

The meeting was held at Honolulu Community College Marine Training Center, and had 35 attendees.

 

Call To Order:   Chairman Robin Bond called the meeting to order and introduced Chris Woolaway who facilitated the first portion of the meeting.

Day Use Moorings

 

Chris introduced the first speakers, Teri Leicher and Ellyn Tong of Malama Kai, to discuss the current status of Day Use Moorings in Hawaii.

 

History

 

Interest in Day Use Moorings started to grow around 1986 when the diving community in Kailua Kona realized that many of the pristine coral growth areas were being damaged by constant anchoring.  John Hallas had pioneered placing pins into the bottom to hold mooring buoys in Florida.   Since then it has spread throughout the Caribbean and other 3rd world areas where it is a very popular concept.   The Hawaii substrate proved to be too hard for simply driving pins.  Here it is necessary to drill holes and set the pins with mortar.   In addition, to place a buoy requires the approval of DLNR and the Army Corps of Engineers.  This process requires public hearings and engineering.   It took 5 – 6 years for the first legal mooring buoys to be placed.   The first permit included 277 locations across the State.   Not all of those locations had buoys installed and now the permit is expired.    There is currently an effort to renew the permit.

 

The current situation is that many of the original buoys are in poor condition.   Dive shops have been proactively assessing and repairing many of them.   To properly inspect the buoys requires training.   A maintenance program is partially funded by the State DOBOR. 

 

Malama Kai is an organization that is promoting the use of Day Use Moorings.   They were started with a donation from the “Grateful Dead” band.  They have divers that will volunteer to install and inspect the moorings.   They have an approved method and an inspection standard.   Usually the moorings have buoys that are about 10 feet or so below the surface of the ocean.   This is so they do not become a visual blight on the ocean view.   They are located by GPS and then by visual search.   Once you become familiar with them they are usually easy to find.

 

Anyone interested for more information about Malama Kai, or anyone with recommendations for a buoy location, now is the time to nominate a location for the permitting process.    The Malama Kai foundation can be contacted by calling 808-885-6354 or on the web at < www.malama-kai.org>.

Anyone wishing to donate money to help eliminate coral reef anchor damage is welcome to “Adopt a Buoy”.   Donations can be island specific.   It costs about $250. to place a buoy and about $750 to maintain one over its life expectancy.    Your donation is tax deductible.

NOAA Weather Service Broadcasts

Robin introduced Mr. Andy Nash who is a “Science and Ops Officer” with NOAA Weather Service.  He is currently the meteorologist in charge of technology.   He basically explained the mission and current operating protocols for getting information out to the public related to weather.

 

NOAA has four ways in which information is disseminated to the public.

 

            1.         NOAA Port  -   High end internet user access to organizations that pay to

have access to NOAA information and then distribute it to others i.e. news media outlets like KGMB television.

 

    2.       Internet  -  NOAA has a website but it may not be kept up in a timely manner during a                 weather emergency and it is not considered an “official” outlet.

 

3.       HAWAS  -  NOAA has a “hotline” phone system for Counties and Civil Defense

           organizations to use during a weather emergency.

 

4.       NOAA Weather Radio Broadcasts.

 

The radio network is comprised of 6 broadcast transmitters broadcasting only 1 program.  Coverage extends to a minimum of 10 miles offshore in every area except the Kona coast of the big island.   Because they only run 1 message they are forced to compromise on content.   They would prefer to have more channels.    The typical information that they have that never gets into the broadcast message would include “island by island” weather and “weather observations” that are reported to NOAA by observation stations located throughout the islands.  (About 30)

 

Several years ago NOAA was impacted by something called the “Gore Initiative”, after then Vice-President Al Gore.   After a severe storm impacted his home state he pushed an initiative to provide storm broadcast information service for 98% of the country.   Unfortunately, no money was provided in the legislation.   NOAA has been struggling with this ever since.

 

NOAA’s main weather mission is the protection of life and property.    They have 3 “watch” levels which play a significant role in deciding what is broadcast over the radio.   Those levels are

 

            1.         Routine

            2.         Weather “Watch”

            3.         Weather  “Warning”

 

A weather warning is the highest priority and when this happens all except the most significant warning information is eliminated from the message.

 

“Routine”  messages include all routine forecasts and advisories.   “Watch”  is initiated when there is a significant or potential threat within the next 12 – 30 hours.    A “warning” is issued when something potentially damaging or deadly is happening NOW or will happen in the next 12 hours.

 

“Exclusive Broadcast Suite”

When in the “warning” mode all routine information gets bumped off the broadcast.  During a “warning” the National Weather Service (NWS) offers what it calls its “exclusive broadcast suite”.  This includes warnings for “flash flood”, “severe storms”, “tornado”, “tropical storm”, “hurricane and tsunami”.    The Broadcast will contain only statements relating to those warning plus any marine advisories and a brief weather synopsis.  No forecasts or observations.

 

“High Priority Broadcast Suite”

When in the “watch” mode  NWS offers what it calls its “high priority broadcast suite”.  This will still contain forecasts and Marine buoy observations.   It will not contain observations over land, surf forecasts or mention of records set.

 

These compromises are made to ensure that the important safety information gets out to the public.

 

Hurricane Jimena

On behalf of HOST, Robin Bond called the weather service just after the recent Hurricane “warning” off of the big island.   He was traveling by boat inter-island at the time.   They were interested in getting information on storm related weather on islands other than the big island.   The yacht club was also trying to get information to determine whether they should run the offshore yacht race on Saturday.   Due to the reduced Broadcast Suite only the storm information for the big island was presented.   HOST’s concern is that marine users need information during a storm.  By dropping off associated weather and just repeating the warning the weather reports effectively become worthless.    Mr. Nash pointed out that to present a complete information report would take between 20 to 30 minutes.    They don’t think the casual user wants to wait 20 minutes to get the important safety message.  

 

Discussion followed where it was suggested to him that a different type of compromise might serve the entire community better.   Perhaps the short broadcast emergency suite could be repeated for 40 minutes out of every hour.   During that broadcast it could be announced that a more thorough 20 minute broadcast would be presented at the top of the hour.   Knowing this, users could tune in for the type of information they are most interested in.   Mr. Nash said they have not considered that and that he would bring it up for discussion at the NWS.

 

HOST thanked him for his presentation and pledged to work with them in any further efforts on this important safety issue.

 

CDR Tom Griffitts, USCG

Tom presented the Annex B information from the USCG Marine Safety Office Hurricane Plan.  This plan essentially lists the major events that occur during each Heavy Weather Warning Condition although it is not all inclusive of the preparations that occur throughout the port.

Seasonal Alert  -  Port readiness items are addressed and an effort to prepare the port community for hurricane season is conducted.

72 Hour Alert / Heavy Weather Warning Condition IV  -   The USCG will host a meeting to coordinate the use of resources.  The COTP may restrict the operations of, or deny entry into the port to, vessels transporting oil or certain hazardous materials.  Facilities requiring vessels to depart their docks when severe winds are 72 hours away are required to have permission from the COTP.

48 Hour Alert / Heavy Weather Warning Condition III  -   The USCG will  issue a Broadcast Notice to Mariners.  Oceangoing vessels in excess of 200 gross tons desiring to remain in port during the storm must request permission from the COTP.  Facilities will consult with the COTP regarding vessels that will remain moored to the facility during heavy weather.

24 Hour Alert / Heavy Weather Warning Condition II  -   The USCG will issue a Broadcast Notice to Mariners.  In cases where vessels or facilities refuse to follow the safety recommendations and fail to make adequate preparations, the COTP issues orders to require the appropriate precautions.   All lightering and bunkering are to cease.  All coastal inlets are closed to departing traffic. 

12 Hour Alert / Heavy Weather Warning Condition I  -   THE DESIGNATED WATERS OF THE COTP HONOLULU ZONE ARE CLOSED.           A safety zone will be established for all waters within the COTP zone when winds are 12 hours away, and will remain in effect until terminated by the COTP.   Except for vessels seeking safe harbor or refuge, vessel movements without specific authorization from the COTP are prohibited.

 

In the event of a severe storm the USCG will establish Assessment, Response and Recovery (AR&R) Teams to help restore the port.

 

Marine Transportation Security Act.

Robin introduced CDR Craig Peterson of the USCG to discuss highlights of the Marine Transportation Security Act.  (MTSA)   The main elements of this new Federal Legislation include

 

1.         Area Security Committees

            2.         Vessel Security

            3.         Facility Security

            4.         AIS or Automatic Identification System Requirements.

 

This legislation has been fast tracked after 9/11.   The comment period on the main legislation is complete and it will soon be out in final form.   Plans will be required by December 31, 2003 and compliance will be required by July 1, 2004.  

 

Captain Rice

Captain Terry Rice, USCG Ret., spoke to the AIS component of the law.   The law will require vessels over a certain size to have an Automatic Identification System on board in any waters where there is a Vessel Traffic System receiver.   Currently Honolulu does not have such a system but it probably won’t be long.    Currently the Department of Transportation Docket Management System is receiving comments on the types of vessels and the types of design criteria for AIS systems.   Current systems meet Class A requirements and cost about $10,000. each.   Being proposed (and open for comment) is a Class B standard for systems and if approved for certain vessel types would cost about $2,000. dollars.  

 

IF YOU WANT TO MAKE COMMENTS YOU HAVE BETWEEN NOW AND JANUARY TO COMMENT TO THE DOCKET.   YOU CAN DO THIS ON-LINE AT http://dms.dot.gov/

 

This started out as a safety system but is now being advanced as a security issue.  These AIS systems will identify vessels to the Vessel Traffic System (VTS).

 

Whales and Collision With Boats

 

Captain Reggie White

Robin introduced Captain Reggie White who attended the recent conference on Whale Collisions held on Maui.   He had volunteered to represent HOST and report back to us.

 

He reported that there is some concern about whales and the potential for collision with boats.  The whale population is expanding at about 7% per year.   This is going to be a problem.  It was clear that everyone there had the same goal – no collisions.   It was also clear that we currently don’t have enough data.   Current laws discourage anyone from reporting an incident as prosecution is possible.   The law was recently changed to drop the word “intentional” contact to make it easier to prosecute clear violators.   “Clear” violators being in the eyes of the prosecutors.  Discussed was some means of having a third party to whom incidents could be reported.  This was tabled for further discussion later.   Currently it is proposed that scientists and operators get together once a year to discuss lessons learned.     This is a process we will need to watch.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

          The USCG 14th District is currently undergoing some reorganization.  You will be seeing some changes in the near future.

 

            MSO is combining with Group to improve the Command Structure by having less duplication.

 

          The Dive SOP is still at the lawyers being reviewed.  No news

 

          The handouts being prepared by HOST on the EPIRB and PFD regulations are at DOBOR for their input.  No news.

 

          Honolulu Harbor Festival 2003 will be held at Aloha Tower, Saturday November 8, 2003 from 9:00 am until 4:00 pm.    HOST is planning to have a booth there so if anyone would like to volunteer let Robin know.

 

 

Thanks for coming and if you have any ideas that you would like to hear about just let us know.

 

Next Meetings:

 

          Board Meeting   -   November 13th, 2003

                                         Hawaii Yacht Club,  3:00 pm

 

          Board Meeting   -   December 11th, 2003

                                         Hawaii Yacht Club,  3:00 pm

 

          General Membership Meeting

                                         December 11th, 2003

                                         ANNUAL HOST PARTY

                                        Hawaii Yacht Club, 6:00 pm.