Waiting on governor’s signature

LIHUE — The rules have been adopted. A request for a contested case hearing has been thrown out. Only one thing is stopping the Haena Community Based Subsistence Fishery Area from becoming a reality: Gov. David Ige’s signature.

However, when Ige plans to make a decision on the matter is unclear.

“We’re just waiting,” said Presley Wann, president of the Hui Makaainana o Makana.

On Oct. 24, in what has been described as an historic decision, the state Board of Land and Natural Resources approved Hawaii’s first CBSFA for Kauai’s North Shore community of Haena. 

Shortly after that meeting, a petition for a contested case was submitted by Makani Christensen and Michael Sur. They argued the proposal would be an “unjust and unfair deprivation of our continued use.” They also contended the 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.”

The Land Board ultimately denied the petition during its Dec. 12 meeting, and the rules were sent to newly elected Gov. Ige’s office for approval.

“They have not yet been signed,” Emma Anders of the DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources wrote in an email Monday.

Ige’s spokeswoman Cindy McMillan confirmed the proposal is on the governor’s desk but said it is unknown at this time when action will be taken on it.

Wann said he is disappointed the rules and regulations did not make it to former Gov. Neil Abercrombie in time but is remaining optimistic.

“We’re just hoping they’ll be sympathetic to what we’re trying to do,” he said of Ige and his administration.

Haena’s pursuit of a designation and co-management relationship started almost 20 years ago to address overfishing. 

For nearly a decade, the community worked with DLNR to develop rules and regulations for the area.

The Haena CBSFA includes state waters within the Haena ahupuaa, extending from the shoreline out one mile and along the coast from the border of Na Pali State Park to just east of Makua (Tunnels) Beach. 

The new rules 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. They also establish a “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.

Former BLNR Chairman William Aila said previously that the rules package gives the Haena hui an opportunity to protect its fisheries, based on traditional and customary practices.

“Native Hawaiians knew how to practice sustainability in order to feed their ohanas,” Aila said in October. “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.”

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