Waimanalo residents band together to fight overfishing

Waimanalo residents band together to fight overfishing

WAIMANALO, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For many residents in Waimanalo, the beach isn't just a beautiful place. It's also a very important resource, one that they say is being abused.

Kaiona Beach, for example, may be scenic, but it's still a source of food for the dinner table. But that source has been dwindling.

"it's been strange because the fishermen that I've known my whole life that go in and come out with something, they no longer come out with stuff," said lifelong resident Kukana Kama-Toth.

She's also concerned that endangered green sea turtles are being killed in these waters.

"Some of the caretakers at Kaiona Beach were finding turtle shells inside of our `opala, our rubbish cans. You know, that got us more concerned," she said.

Kama-Toth is one of the organizers of Na Kua`aina o Waimanalo. The group met Thursday night at Kaiona Beach, one of the places where they say groups of fishermen are coming in, and then leaving with illegal amounts of fish.

Last month, one such group of fishermen was confronted with a catch that was larger than allowed by law, and also included fish that were smaller than the minimum size allowed.

Na Kua`aina o Waimanalo has started working with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and other officials to stop illegal fishing and protect their resource.

"They cannot be everywhere," said group member Kalani Kalima. "But the community, they know where the problems are. They know who the problems are. And they should be able to police themselves. The power is in the people."

The effort only started recently, but it's gaining more support from the close-knit community. Members are now patrolling the beaches nightly, and then contacting Honolulu Police and the DLNR if a fishing infraction is observed.

Kama-Toth said they will continue the effort to protect the resource for future generations.

"What is in your area, who take care of, and that was you have enough of it."

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