HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Many old Hawaiian fishponds around the state are now being restored and preserved. Now, a rural community on Kauai has the distinction of being the first place in the state to have other traditional Hawaiian fishing practices preserved as part of state rules.
The community is Ha'ena on Kauai's North Shore. It was established as a Community-based Fisheries Subsistence Area in 2006.
On Friday, dozens of supporters watched as the State Land Board unanimously approved the first-ever package of rules proposed by Native Hawaiian subsistence fishers from the community itself.
"It's another big step in life that has been brought back to us as a Hawaiian people, who we were raised, how we were taught, how we were raised to gather," said Keli'i Alapai, a lifelong Ha'ena resident who helped develop the rules
"Part of it is to harvest, and the big part, the hard part, is to take care of that resources, to malama that resource. That's part of being a true cultural practitioner or fisherman," said Presley Wann, president of Hui Maka'ainana o Makana.
The process to establish the area and its rules has been underway for decades, and will cover a six-square mile area from the border of Na Pali State Park to Makua Beach, also known as Tunnels.
Among the rules, octopus can only be caught traditionally, using a stick or hands. Lobster and seaweed only can be harvested by hand. There will be limits on the amounts of octopus, lobster and sea urchins as well.
There also will be limits on using nets for fishing. Gill nets to surround fish (ho'opuni) and pa'ipa'i, in which noise is used to chase fish into nets, will be allowed. There will also be a limit of two fishing poles per person.
Several other rural communities around the state, including Mo'omomi on Molokai and Miloli'i on Hawaii island, are set to follow in Ha'ena's footsteps, using Hawaiian fishing tradition to ensure the future.
"I'm so lucky now that this has happened," said Alapai. "I can pass this one to my children, to my mo'opuna. And the rest of the community can do the same."