Committee OKs fishing ban at Morgan’s Ponds

LIHU‘E — The Kaua‘i County Council’s Parks and Recreation Committee by a 3-1 vote Tuesday recommended passage of a bill that would make it illegal to fish at Morgan’s Ponds in Lydgate Beach Park.

“It was an unwritten rule that fish there are just keiki o ka ‘aina of the island,” Councilman Dickie Chang said.

However, Councilman Tim Bynum said he has personally seen fishing at the ponds, and community members have approached him to say they have witnessed fishing there.

That fishing is a Native Hawaiian right, which should be respected and preserved, is understood by the council.

But as Bynum put it, spearfishing at Morgan’s Ponds “is like shooting fish in a barrel.”

Yet, the exact fate of a school of large uhu, a colorful parrotfish, trapped in the pond and appreciated by visitors and locals for many years is still a mystery.

“Those big, beautiful parrotfish were large,” Bynum said. “They also are very tasty to eat, but it’s not a place where people should

go fishing.”

Councilman KipuKai Kuali‘i was the sole committee member dissenting from his colleagues. He said the ponds are primarily for recreation or swimming, not an aquarium.

“The fish is food,” Kuali‘i said. Despite raising the question of curbing Native Hawaiian gathering rights, he said he would not vote against it for safety reasons.

“I remember as a kid being hooked,” he said. “The kids swimming in the ponds should be free from the dangers of a hook.”

But Kuali‘i changed his mind after learning from First Deputy County Attorney Amy Esaki that a violation could mean a petty misdemeanor conviction, and with it fines starting at $100 and up to $500, depending of the number of re-offenses.

“Because of the seriousness

of the fines … I’m not going to support it,” he said.

Committee members Bynum, JoAnn Yukimura and Nadine Nakamura voted for it.

“It’s a fun, free activity to do outdoors,” said Nakamura, adding she used to take her children there often when they were younger.

Committee member Mel Rapozo was absent due to missing a standby flight from the Mainland Monday.

Chang said Lydgate Park used to be a sanctuary, a “mini Hanauma Bay.”

Before the county restored the ponds’ rockwalls, a lot of fish and even turtles would make it to the ponds at high tide. Today, Morgan’s Ponds is still where children go to learn how to snorkel, and he would like to see the area protected.

As an ex-officio member, Chang doesn’t vote in the committee. But he will have a say when the issue goes to full council next week.

Council Chair Jay Furfaro, also not a committee member, said the state Department of Land and Natural Resources instructed the council to pass an ordinance if they wished to see no fishing at Morgan’s Ponds.

Bill 2452 is on the council’s agenda Wednesday for second and final reading.

Visit for more information.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.