Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year’s Fireworks, Price of Ahi, Marine Reserves and Civil Unions

Happy New Year.

The President leaves today to go back to work. I'm here for a few more days.

This New Year’s Eve was the first celebrated with an island-wide ban on Oahu on personal aerial fireworks. None of those black-smoker sparklers either. Fewer permits were bought to pop firecrackers. Finally, after all the years of discussion and debate, rules were in place to keep the evening’s air cleaner and fires prevented.

Good to allow people to breathe on New Year’s eve, good to keep roofs and hillsides from burning, and good to make life bearable for the dogs, cats and birds that have had to suffer through the nights. How strange, having grown up with fireworks and coming "home" to Honolulu all these years for New Year’s celebrations, to see a tradition — controversial, no doubt — fade. There were still firecrackers popping as midnight approached and some personal aerials filled the skies but it was noticeably a much more subdued welcome for the new year. But I missed, on the morning after, seeing the ubiquitous flakes of red firecracker paper littering the streets and the powder burns streaked across the blacktop.

Another New Year’s tradition closely reported on is the price of ahi, or yellowtail tuna, eaten raw as sashimi on New Year’s Day. Ahi is prized for the day’s feast because, besides being tasty, it maintains its freshness and firmness on the serving plate. There will always be demand so supply determines the price of ahi by the day before New Year’s day. I think that the price topped $30 by New Year’s eve. Try that with Chinook or halibut one of these days.

Two other changes took place when the clock struck midnight and 2012 began in Hawaii.

In Honolulu, fishing opened in the Waikiki-Diamond Head Shoreline Fishing Management Areas bounded by the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium to the Diamond Head lighthouse. The area is closed in odd-numbered years to allow fish stocks to recover. The area of the Waikiki Marine Life Conservation District from the Natatorium to the Kapahulu sea wall remains closed to fishing.  (If you’ve been to Waikiki, you will understand that.) in any case, the signs along the shoreline make the demarcations and regulations clear.

And, as of the new year, civil unions are legal and recognized in Hawaii. Congratulations. Hauoli makahiki hou. Aloha.

--Mike Sato

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