One of the big surprises for new Hawaii governors is the near endless chain of appointments that have to be made to government positions.

It is comprised not merely of the 50-plus Cabinet directors, deputy directors, chairs and the governor’s top staff. It also includes filling judicial vacancies and the members of more than 170 boards and commissions whose terms expire on scheduled dates.

In the 2017 legislative session, Gov. David Ige submitted the names of more than 300 people to the Legislature. Among them were nominees to head the Department of Accounting and General Services, an associate judge on the Intermediate Court of Appeals and a member of the Board of Land and Natural Resources.

The administration also had to come up with candidates to handle arguably less weighty tasks, such as serving on the Hawaii Sister State Committee and the Board of Private Detectives and Guards.

After a bumpy start — during Ige’s first year in office he struggled to get a director of the Office of Planning, a deputy director of the Commission on Water Resource Management and someone to run the Office of Environmental Quality Control — the governor and his staff have generally found willing, qualified candidates to fill key jobs, and turned the necessary paperwork in on time.

But just two months ago, the administration blew it, effectively reducing Hawaii’s influence in setting policies for a region covering almost 1.5 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean.

That’s when the governor’s chief of staff, Mike McCartney, bizarrely failed to give federal officials a list of names to fill two at-large terms that expire in August on the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council. Wespac has 13 voting members who advise the National Marine Fisheries Service.

McCartney actually missed two deadlines: The first was March 30, but it was extended until April 28.

“Unfortunately, I did not fully understand the requirements of the application process, and the paperwork did not reach NOAA until after the deadline,” he said.

That’s quite an excuse from not only the governor’s top aide but one who previously served as president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, was a state senator for 10 years, directed the state Department of Human Resources Development, became the CEO of PBS Hawaii, ran the Hawaii State Teachers Association as executive director and chaired the Democratic Party of Hawaii.

One can’t help but wonder whether there was some other reason for missing NOAA’s deadline other than the equivalent of the dog-ate-the-homework.

Wespac has tremendous sway over endangered species and commercial fishing, but the council is heavily weighted toward the interests of the latter.

Hawaii will not be voiceless on Wespac: Michael Goto of the United Fishing Agency, Dean Sensui of “Hawaii Goes Fishing” and Suzanne Case, chair of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, are current members.

And some good news came just this week: The governor of the Northern Mariana Islands picked Hawaii lawyer and part-time commercial fisherman Edwin Ebisui to continue in his at-large seat. (The other at-large seat from Hawaii is held by Kona charter fisherman McGrew Rice, whose term ends this summer.)

Had McCartney got his list in on time, however, the U.S. Commerce Department might have picked two people more sensitive to environmental concerns. Several candidates were Native Hawaiians with broad experience.

Wespac has tremendous sway over endangered species and commercial fishing, but the council is heavily weighted toward the interests of the latter. Where do you suppose, for example, council member Archie Taotasi Soliai of Starkist Samoa stands when it comes to conservation?

Ige will have another shot at a Wespac nomination when Goto’s term expires next year. And should the governor win another term, Sensui’s term is up in 2019.

The primary federal law governing marine fisheries management in U.S. federal waters has as its objectives preventing overfishing, rebuilding overfished stocks, increasing long-term economic and social benefits and ensuring “a safe and sustainable” supply of seafood.

Here’s hoping Hawaii is as committed to the sustainability goal as it is to helping the fishing industry thrive — and that Mike McCartney is up to the job.

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