DLNR to hear subsistence fishing proposal

The Maui News – A proposal to set aside an area on the north shore of Molokai for subsistence fishing will be heard during a public scoping meeting this week, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources announced.

Hui Malama O Mo’omomi submitted the proposal for a community-based subsistence fishing area to the department on behalf of the Ho’olehua Hawaiian homesteaders.

The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Maui Waena Intermediate School cafeteria in Kahului. Public comments were received at two community meetings held last month on Molokai and one on Oahu.

The subsistence fishing zone would extend from ‘Ilio Point in the west to Kaholaiki Bay in the east and from the shoreline out to 1 nautical mile. The proposal aims to ensure the abundance and availability of marine resources to support traditional subsistence fishing practices.

Proposed regulations would establish new bag and size limits, gear restrictions and seasonal protections for certain fish and invertebrate species. Commercial fishing would be prohibited within the area, and there would be special regulations for Kawa’aloa Bay.

The deadline for written testimony is April 12. Comments may be sent to the Division of Aquatic Resources by mail at 1151 Punchbowl St., Room 330, Honolulu 96813, or by email at DLNR.Aquatics@hawaii.gov.

Online documents may be downloaded from dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar. They can be found under the “Announcements” section.

State law allows for the establishment of community-based subsistence fishing areas for the purpose of “reaffirming and protecting fishing practices customarily and traditionally exercised for purposes of Native Hawaiian subsistence, culture and religion.”

Over the past 30 to 40 years, community members have seen a significant decline in the numbers and sizes of certain fish species along Molokai’s north shore. Commercial fishing, overly efficient gear and inappropriate harvesting of fish have been blamed for the decline.

Under the proposal, the area would be off limits, or “kapu,” only to commercial fishing, except for akule and ta’ape. The proposal also would prohibit night diving and scuba spearfishing, which are not considered traditional and customary practices.

The department’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement would enforce the rules, if adopted, for the subsistence fishing area.

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