Letters To The Editor

Don Chapman
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June 14, 2006 - MidWeek
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It’s not Scientology

In reply to Jane Lee’s letter expressing surprise that the Newsmaker feature on Kelly Preston and the Narconon program didn’t mention that it is based on the principles of Scientology:

The reason is because it isn’t. The program was not even started by L. Ron Hubbard. An inmate (William Benitez) read a science book on drugs by Hubbard and used the information to rehabilitate himself. The program is based on scientific research on drug use and its root causes. When our agency (HCAP) was approached by Narconon, I did some research and asked the representative about religious affiliation. The program contains staff from all religions. Clients in the residential drug treatment receive free transportation to any place of worship they choose.

The information packets that Kelly Preston publicized contain no information about religion. The material simply covers the basic chemistry and physiology related to drug use. Narconon has a 75-80 percent success rate for a reason. They have taken the best information about drug use and its root causes.

It is unfortunate that Hubbard’s religious affiliation is preventing people from using an excellent resource to discuss drug use with their children.

Doug Goodman Windward Programs Manager, Honolulu Community

Action Program Inc.

Endangered fish

Regarding the May 26 MidWeek cover photo of the Napoleon wrasse speared by a diver with “Lungs of Steel” in the Marshall Islands:

Shame on you for not researching more thoroughly the plight of the endangered Napoleon wrasse and its docile character making it so easy to spear. Shame on the spearfishermen for saying they practice conservation, when killing this big fish is the very thing that is wiping this species out. A low rate of reproduction, low densities on the reef and a long life span make this the most vulnerable of coral reef species, leading to its recent listing and protection under CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, in an international effort to protect it from extinction.

Two thousand miles west of Hawaii, the Marshall Islands is one of the few places in the Pacific Ocean where intact populations of this magnificent fish still survive. The last thing the Marshallese people and this species need is spearfishermen mercilessly hunting it down and accelerating its decline. The Napoleon, or hump-head, wrasse has already been systematically plundered and eliminated across much of the Pacific by commercial fishermen for Hong Kong’s live food fish trade.

Even selective spear fishing of vulnerable species such as hump-head wrasse or giant groupers leads to their elimination from the reef, a fact increasingly recognized by many island communities resulting in locally developed conservation measures including controls on fishing gear and conservation areas established on the reef for protection against overfishing - thereby protecting the communities’ food supplies.

Your article also failed to point out how friendly and docile this fish is - it often follows divers around like a puppy dog.

The speared humphead wrasse gracing the cover of MidWeek was over 30 years old. It was a male that held together a breeding group of five to 10 females often seen as shadows in the distant blue of the reef. Taking out the one big male upsets the breeding within these harems, needing time for one of the females to change into a male and putting that small population at risk. That same group of fish with the big humphead male is worth more to the community alive on the reef attracting underwater photographers and divers who will spend beaucoup bucks over the years to come by visiting these last intact populations, helping to support the economy of our island communities, than being shot dead.

That said, conservation is a gradual learning process for us all, as we see how bad things are getting across all our islands, and I applaud the spearfishing community for becoming more concerned about conservation and protection of the reef. In the Marshall Islands we’ve recently discovered Napoleon wrasse are the natural protectors of the reef. They are one of the few reef fish that will eat the destructive Crown of Thorns starfish, which is doing so much damage to our reefs by eating the coral polyps and killing the coral itself. Overfishing of these natural predators is one of the causes of Crown of Thorns outbreaks.

Steve Why

Marshall Islands Conservation Society, Majuro

Editor’s note:While the Napoleon wrasse is not yet on the federal endangered species list, we hope that it will be soon, that publicity generated by our cover story will speed that process and that fishermen practice true conservation.

Send your letters to MidWeek Letters, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 500, Honolulu, HI. 96813; by fax to 585-6324, or by email to dchapman@midweek.com. Please include your name, address and daytime and evening phone numbers. We print only the letters that include this information, but only your name and area of residence will appear in print. Letters may be edited for clarity and space.
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