Gov. David Ige has yet to sign rules intended to create Hawaii’s first Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area for Haena on the north shore of Kauai.
The seven-month delay has irked those who fought for the past several years to convince the state Board of Land and Natural Resources to take action to ensure the sustainability of the near-shore ocean resources there by implementing a program based on culturally rooted practices.
Now it looks like the wait will continue through the summer.
DLNR rules to create a Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area off the coast of Haena still await the governor’s signature.
“The Haena fishing rules are still under review,” Cindy McMillan, Ige’s communications director, said Wednesday. “We expect that the review process will be completed by the end of the summer.”
The land board approved the rules in October following a passionate series of meetings attended by hundreds of supporters, as well as some commercial fishermen opposed to the restrictions.
“When a community goes through the process that the state provides — goes through it correctly and completes it correctly — then it behooves the governor to sign the rules.” — Makaala Kaaumoana
Under the rules, commercial fishing would be banned in the subsistence fishing area, which spans a few miles along the northwestern coast and stretches one mile seaward. Additionally, fishermen could only use two hook-and-line poles at any given time; spear guns and night fishing would be prohibited; and there would be bag limits for opihi, limu, lobsters, urchins and octopuses.
The land board dismissed an appeal for a contested case hearing in December filed by Makani Christensen and Michael Sur, who argued that the rules jeopardized their livelihoods as commercial fishermen.
That decision leaves Ige’s signature as the final hurdle before the rules can take effect.
Makaala Kaaumoana, vice chair of Hui Hoomalu I Ka Aina, said many people on the north shore of Kauai are frustrated by the wait.
“When a community goes through the process that the state provides — goes through it correctly and completes it correctly — then it behooves the governor to sign the rules,” she said. “The process has been completed. What is the problem?”
William Aila, who headed the DLNR under former Gov. Neil Abercrombie, has described the creation of the Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area for Haena as a “historic action.”
“This rules package gives the Haena hui an opportunity to protect its fisheries, based on traditional and customary practices,” Aila said in a statement after the land board approved the rules last year.
“Native Hawaiians knew how to practice sustainability in order to feed their ohanas,” he said. “This is strong recognition by government that we cannot do it alone and community-based management and buy-in is critical to sustaining Hawaii’s precious natural resources for now and future generations.”
Advocates for the subsistence fishing area have said they hope it becomes a model that other communities can use to protect near-shore ocean resources.
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