WAIMANALO, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Frustration over illegal fishing is growing in a Windward Oahu community, and some Waimanalo residents say they're stepping up their own efforts to help stop the problem.
"(There are) a few groups of fisherman, I like to call them poachers, coming out under the cover of darkness and doing some night diving," said Waimanalo resident Kalani Kalima. "Some suspect that they're actually using bleach bombs to catch the fish."
In response to the complaints, state wildlife authorities checked out suspicious catches last week at Kaiona Beach Park. Honolulu police say they cited one 44-year-old Waimanalo man on Thursday night for illegal fishing after he was found to have caught 17 undersized kala.
The following evening, a Department of Land and Natural Resources officer issued a citation to a different fisherman for undersized uhu.
According to the agency, even though a large catch may look shocking, it may not be illegal, since some species don't have bag limits. Residents who are concerned about overharvesting say they're alerting others through social media, including Facebook Live broadcasts, to publicize the busts.
"The depletion of our area's resources is of a great magnitude," said Waimanalo advocate Kukana Kama-Toth.
The state has 36 Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers on Oahu who are charged with making sure that laws are being followed.
"To protect all of this mountain range, and 3 miles out to the ocean, is just crazy and beyond me," Kama-Toth said. "How can 36 state officers take care of that much resources? They can't."
Kama-Toth believes that community involvement is key, especially through educational outreach and contact with lawmakers. Residents are hoping to find a solution to ensure an adequate food supply for future generations.
"There is a lack of education within that. There's cultural clashing that's occurring, and really, the areas that should be taken care of aren't and so it's being left for grassroots movements to start this process," said Kama-Toth.