Anglers feel like fish out of water

Ross Brown
Ross Brown

By Duane Shimogawa

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Two of the state's most popular recreational fishing sites have been given the short end of the fishing pole.

Budget cuts have forced the closure of a fish hatchery on Oahu, which keeps both of the reservoirs stocked.

A small group of people rallied at the Capitol Saturday. Most were longtime fishermen who feel the state isn't giving them a chance to voice their opinions. They're hoping the state will work with them to keep these important fishing areas alive.

Ross Brown loves to fish. He's been hooked, ever since he could pick up a pole.

"I like to fish for anything that'll bite a hook," he said.

But his hook may be without bait soon, as the state plans to shutdown key fish hatchery operations at its Sand Island facility on Oahu.

Fishing areas like the Nuuanu Resovoir are being threatened by the closure of the Anuenue fish hatchery.

The hatchery supplies catfish to the Nuuanu Resovoir and trout to Kokee on Kauai.

"The state simply wants to moth ball the fish hatchery and that would adversely affect the local people here in Hawaii and also tourism and that's just wrong," Brown said.

Department of Land and Natural Resources chair, Laura Theielen says given the level of budget cuts and hiring freezes, they can't just reduce each program because they would be left at ineffective operating levels.

"So, we are consolidating and focusing our efforts on core functions of our department which only we can, and must provide," she said.

Fishermen say without annual re-stocking, both reservoirs will likely be depleted in just a few years, leaving anglers like Brown, feeling like fish out of water.

The changes take effect july first. but fishermen we spoke to say they're hoping local schools on Kauai and Oahu will jump in to take over some of the fish hatchery operations.