- Special Projects
Amid mounting public pressure, Gov. David Ige has signed rules to create Hawaii’s first Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area for Haena on the north shore of Kauai.
The months-long delay frustrated those who fought for the past decade to finally convince the state Board of Land and Natural Resources in October to take action to ensure the sustainability of the near-shore ocean resources there by implementing a program based on culturally rooted practices.
“The Haena CBSFA is an outstanding example of self-determination and governance for a local community, which wants to not only preserve but enhance its local fishery for sustainability,” Ige said in a release Tuesday. “I personally want to thank everyone involved for their patience and kokua in bringing this long process to a great conclusion.”
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 left Ige’s signature as the final hurdle before the rules could take effect.
“Community-based management of this nature isn’t only the past, but is now the future.” — DLNR Chair Suzanne Case
“Community-based management of this nature isn’t only the past, but is now the future,” DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said in a release. “This CBSFA reflects the hard work and commitment of the greater Haena community and provides a great example of how other communities and the state can collaborate to manage precious natural resources.”
Thomas Hashimoto, a master in fishing and agriculture practices who was born and raised in Haena, said in the release that “the land and the ocean are life for the people.”
He was a founding member of Hui Makaainana o Makana, a nonprofit formed in 1999 to advocate for the Haena CBFSA.
The group sent Ige a letter July 14 that urged him to sign the rules and even offered to negotiate certain concessions to commercial fishermen so they could fish alien species like taape and roi.
“We believe, beyond misinformation about exclusivity and vigilantism, that each community is different and that our state cannot fulfill its obligations through centralized decision-making alone,” wrote Presley Wann, the nonprofit’s president.
Supporters of the rules were frustrated by what they saw as a contradictory leadership style when it came to the fishing rules and the Thirty Meter Telescope to be built atop Mauna Kea.
In the latter, they saw Ige as a decision-maker who believed in process. Despite objections from Native Hawaiians who consider the mountain sacred, the governor has explained his support for the TMT project to proceed because the group followed the government’s lengthy approval process.
But until this week, advocates for the fishing rules saw the administration as waffling, asking for more public meetings despite their having gone through a similarly long process to secure all the necessary approvals.
“If this is indeed your process philosophy, then why isn’t the Haena proposal, having taken the appropriate steps and received the necessary approvals, worthy of the same support?” Wann asked in the letter to the governor.
Ige, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment on the comparison.
“In Haena, from my great-grandparents’ time, we were taught to malama Haena, its lands, and especially its ocean areas,” Hashimoto said in the release. “I have been honored and humbled to share knowledge I received from my kupuna from past generations with all who live in Haena, so these same places that I have fished and gathered my whole life will continue to be here for my great-grandchildren and all 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.
Erin Zanre, the DLNR’s CBSFA coordinator, provides an overview of how these areas will work in a video here.
The DLNR plans to hold a public hearing on the Haena CBSFA Management Plan at a later date, the release says.