HONOLULU — “There is plenty of room in the ocean for everyone,” said Brian Neilson, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Aquatic Resources administrator. “All we ask is that people fish and swim with aloha.”
Following the lifting of certain restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of people returned to Hawai‘i’s ocean waters, states a DLNR release from DAR. Akin to “playing well with others in the sandbox,” the DLNR DAR is encouraging swimmers and fishers to share aloha when in the water.
“We’ve been seeing higher than usual fishing activity around the state ever since April when the governor allowed people to cross closed state beaches in order to fish,” Neilson said. “In a few locations, fishers and swimmers have been using the same areas, which can lead to potential conflicts.”
Summer is the season for inshore fishing for fish such as ‘oama, papio, halalu, sardines, and a number of other fish species. The DAR said fishers go where the fish are, and this summer, fish are showing up in places that haven’t usually been popular fishing sites. Some of these places are also frequented by swimmers.”
The DAR has been monitoring these activities and conducting outreach in these areas where fishers and swimmers overlap.
“Swimmers might be upset that fishers are showing up for the first time in places where they’ve been swimming for years,” Neilsen said. “But they need to understand that fishers have the same rights to those waters as swimmers do.”
“We’ve been reminding fishers to use caution to keep swimmers and others safe,” he said. “And we’re asking swimmers not to interfere with fishing activity, and try to avoid specific areas where people are fishing. Many of these fishers are trying to put food on their table.”
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.