At no other time in the history of human beings on this planet have our actions with regard to the ocean had such a huge potential for impacting future generations. Our oceans are under siege, as never before, from climate change, ocean acidification, over fishing, coastal development, plastics and a lot more.

In our own backyard, expansion of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument will, among many other things, assure that Hawaii’s small boat commercial, subsistence, recreational, sport and charter boat fishermen will continue to be able to catch the tunas, billfish, bottomfish and other species so important in our local communities.

Only 2 percent of the world’s oceans are currently protected, but many marine scientists agree that we need to protect at least 30 percent of our oceans to assure the worlds fisheries don’t continue to collapse.

Coral reefs such as this one in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument provide places for fish to reproduce and sustain the vitality of their populations around Hawaii.

Coral reefs such as this one in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument provide places for fish to reproduce and sustain the vitality of their populations around Hawaii.

UNESCO via Wikimedia Commons

Fishing depletes the supply of fish. Conservation areas give fish the chance to repopulate. Moreover, female fish that are given adequate refuge, allowing them to grow older and larger, produce geometrically more eggs, and more viable eggs.

Science has confirmed that fish populations in protected areas spill-over into adjacent waters, increasing the quantity of fish available to, in this case, the main Hawaiian Islands.

Science has confirmed that fish populations in protected areas spill over into adjacent waters, increasing the quantity of fish available to, in this case, the main Hawaiian Islands.

Expanding the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument will not prevent our small boat fishermen from landing ahi or any other species, and in time it will mean our fishermen will have access to more ahi, bottom-fish and other species. The Hawaii longline fleet only hooks a very small percentage of their annual catch in the area proposed for expansion, and because they fish under a quota system, they can move to other productive areas and catch just as many fish.

A growing number of small boat fishermen in Hawaii consider themselves to be, or are working hard to become, pono fishermen, recognizing that their predecessors in these islands understood that kapu were necessary to assure productive fisheries, to assure that there would be fish for the future.

Creating an expanded puuhonua, a refuge, in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, would honor the heritage of pono fishing and assure good catches for future generations of Hawaii fishermen.

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About the Author

  • Rick Gaffney
    Kona resident Rick Gaffney was born and raised in Hawaii and has worked as an ocean recreation consultant and journalist for over 40 years. He has been a recreational fisherman and diver all his life. He has also served on numerous local, state, federal and international commissions focused on fisheries management and marine protected areas.