Concerns Over Reef Fish in Local Markets

HONOLULU (KHNL) - It's been a hot topic among fishermen in Hawaii.

State officials are drafting new rules restricting gill-net fishing. Now, there's a new issue surfacing.

Some people are trying to get reef fish off the market because they say the fish are needed in the ocean to help preserve coral reefs.

"They keep the seaweed down and that's what they do they graze algae," said Charles Birkeland with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Reef fish include goatfish or kumu, menpachi and parrotfish or uhu.

"But if you take parrotfish, you're going to change the ecology of coral reefs and the corals won't do as well," said Birkeland.

But fishermen like Carl Jellings say they're conservative and only take what they need. Placing restrictions on his livelihood would be devastating.

"It would hurt us," said Jellings.

Reef fish are popular at businesses such as Tamashiro Market. The different types of reef fish take up more than half the space at the market. Removing the fish from the market would put a big dent in business.

"Well, that would cut it down quite a bit and I'd think you'd have a lot of customers that would not be happy," said Guy Tamashiro, buyer.

Fishermen like Jellings would have to change their lives and their passion.

"We would have to quit fishing," said Jellings.