LIHUE — The state Board of Land and Natural Resources, in what is being called an historic decision, unanimously approved Hawaii’s first ever Community Based Fisheries Subsistence Area for Kauai’s North Shore community of Haena.
“(It’s) a great day for Haena and all the communities statewide that are pursuing their community based subsistence fishing areas,” said Presley Wann, president of the Hui Maka’ainana o Makana.
Haena’s pursuit of a designation and co-management relationship that would allow the community to address overfishing started almost 20 years ago. And for the last nine, the community has been working with the Department of Land and Natural Resources to develop rules and regulations for the CBFSA.
“Haena is just amazing,” Wann said. “They just live that traditional, cultural lifestyle. And sharing is such an important part of everything they do.”
Kawika Winter, a Hanalei resident involved with the plan, said Friday’s outcome was surreal.
“We’re feeling really good about it,” he said, adding the only thing standing in the way of implementing the rules package is a contested case.
The Haena Community Based Subsistence Fishing Area will include state waters within the Haena ahupuaa, extending from the shoreline out to one mile and along the coast from the border of Na Pali State Park to just east of Makua (Tunnels) Beach.
The new rules will limit the type of fishing gear and harvesting methods that may be used, prohibit the harvest of marine life for commercial purposes, set new daily take and possession limits for certain species and impose fines for noncompliance.
It will also establish the “Makua Puuhonua” (marine refuge), consisting of all waters within the fringing reef of Makua lagoon, as a “no entry” sub-zone, as well as an “Opihi Management Area” within 300 feet of the shoreline between the boundaries of Haena and Na Pali state parks.
“This rules package gives the Haena hui an opportunity to protect its fisheries, based on traditional and customary practices,” BLNR Chairperson William Alia said in a release. “Native Hawaiians knew how to practice sustainability in order to feed their ohanas. 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.”
DAR administrator Frazer McGilvray said the CBFSA sets a precedent for other communities across the state to self-determine what’s best for their local areas based on long-held sustainability practices.
“Community based management isn’t only the past, but is now the future,” he said.
A hearing on Oct. 3 in Haena was attended by hundreds of people. And dozens testified before the BLNR Friday in what was called a show of “overwhelming support.”
But not everyone felt their voices have been heard.
In their request for a contested case hearing, Makani Christensen and Michael Sur wrote they believed the proposal would be an “unjust and unfair deprivation of our continued use,” that the Board’s and Department’s proposed plans in the Haena CBSFA are “arbitrary and capricious and are also not based on any data, scientific or otherwise,” and that they are “being deprived of part of our livelihood and the ability to feed our families.”
In an Oct. 17 letter to McGilvray, Sen. Ron Kouchi said his officer heard from numerous Kauai residents who, prior to the Oct. 3 meeting, were not aware the matter was under consideration and desired additional hearings.
“It is therefore submitted that, in an abundance of caution, additional meetings, education and communication be conducted on all parts of Kauai prior to submitting the proposed administrative rules to the Board for its approval, to avoid any unintended consequences and/or claims that the proposed administrative rules are arbitrary and capricious,” Kouchi wrote.
Wann said the Board’s vote of support Friday opens up a new chapter.
“Now we can really concentrate on doing the management and educating everybody about how we can fish pono, fish correctly, and re-instill traditional and cultural values,” he said.
Erin Zanre, the CBFSA planner for DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resour-ces, called the decision epic.
“Haena has paved the way and we hope the process for other communities won’t be as long and arduous,” Zanre said.
Winter said the goal of the CBFSA is not to stop fishing, as some have said, but to always have abundant fisheries. And while blanket rules may work for some areas, they don’t work for all.
“It doesn’t prevent outsiders … It says that if you come to Haena, you need to fish like the people of Haena,” he said.