Ahi prices spike, puzzling experts
HONOLULU - Fish experts are puzzled over the cause of an ahi shortage that's making it more expensive for Hawaii residents to enjoy sashimi and poke, a popular isle appetizer of raw, marinated tuna cut in cubes.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials say it's as yet undetermined what the cause is. NOAA Pacific Islands Regional Administrator Michael Tosatto says there have been higher prices at the fish auction because of a lower volume of fish caught.
As of Wednesday, the price for a pound of ahi poke at Young's Fish Market in Honolulu was $16, compared with $10 before the shortage occurred.
Other local fish markets also say the shortage is affecting prices.
Rule in awarding rail work invalid
HONOLULU - A judge has declared a procurement rule used to award Honolulu rail-related contracts invalid.
Circuit Court Judge Karl Sakamoto said the 1995 rule is invalid because it conflicts with state procurement law. The law requires at least three competitors for professional services contracts.
It's not immediately clear how the ruling affects the city's contracts with rail consultants PB Americas Inc. and InfraConsult LLC.
Sakamoto said none of the contracts awarded before his ruling Tuesday is invalid.
The lawyer whose firm sued to enforce the state procurement code said taxpayers need assurances work is distributed among all eligible professionals.
John McLaren said at least 26 contracts for professionals including architects and engineers were awarded using the now-invalid rule.
Coffee farmers fight inspection bill
KAILUA-KONA - The Kona Coffee Farmers Association continues to fight a bill that would eliminate mandatory coffee inspections and grading.
Fearing the Legislature will pass the bill, the association presented the governor with a petition with more than 300 signatures opposing it.
The association is concerned the proposed changes will degrade the reputation of world-famous Kona coffee. Coffee processors support the measure, as does the state Department of Agriculture.
Hawaii Coffee Co. President Jim Wayman tells Hawaii Tribune-Herald the association's opposition is "self-serving" by requiring processors and farms that transport green coffee beans to wait for a state inspector.
The provisions the bill seeks to eliminate were put in place after a scandal in the 1990s where coffee grown in other regions outside of Hawaii was labeled and sold as Kona coffee.