What Passage of Seabird Lighting Bill Means for You

First, the good news: Bill 21 will help protect Maui’s seabird populations by regulating “all outdoor lighting fixtures, including swimming and decorative pool lighting, to be light emitting diode fixtures that are down directed, fully shielded, and mounted as low as physically possible to limit light trespass and reflection off ground surfaces to protect native Hawaiian seabirds from becoming disoriented by artificial light.”

Hawaiian Petrel by Jim Denny

Translation: Bright lights cause seabirds to become disoriented, crash and burn. They die from impacts or get knocked to the ground where they are eaten by feral cats and mongoose. Bill 21 will help stop the carnage.

The less-good news: The new lighting requirements for everyone on Maui are going to be time-consuming, confusing and, in general, a pain in the okole. We will all have to replace our outdoor lighting (except for neon, so your Heineken sign’s safe) with “filtered light emitting diode fixtures that limit short wavelength content to no more than two percent of blue light content,” according to the bill. Confused? Maybe this will help (or not)…

As clarified by the bill: “Blue light content means the ratio of the amount of energy emitted by the outdoor light fixture between 400 and 500 nm divided by the amount of energy between 400 and 700 nm.” So, just ask the friendly employee at Target for some of those.

In addition, all outdoor fixtures must be “down-directed with no light shining above the horizontal.” Wall-mounted fixtures must have opaque shields and if the light hits any walled surface, that surface must be repainted with matte paint.

But hey, folks, it really is all for a great cause. So, go get that degree in electrical engineering so you can figure out which lights to buy, pick up a bunch of opaque fixtures, point it all at the ground, and repaint your house in the matte color of your choice. Our seabirds will thank us for millennia to come. Because they will still be here.

Joel Dyer