Plan to protect 30% of shoreline draws concern among anglers

The Department of Land and Natural Resources' Division of Aquatic Resources met with Maui residents last weekend to get input for its Holomua Marine...
Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 5:51 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 4, 2022 at 10:20 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A statewide initiative to protect marine resources across the islands is raising concerns among anglers, who worry it will restrict their access to the shore.

The state met with Maui residents last weekend to get input for its Holomua Marine 30-by-30 initiative ― a plan to protect 30% of each major island’s shores by 2030.

That will mean restrictions for fishermen who say they want a real voice in the process and not something that feels like a bait and switch.

Ed Watamura is part of HFACT, the Hawai’i Fishermen’s Alliance for Conservation and Tradition. The group advocates for everyone’s right to fish and serves as a bridge between the fishing community and the state.

“The fishermen were not happy and a lot of them just turned around and walked out,” he said. “They felt like they were not listened to, that their voice was not being heard, and they were just being told what to do.”

He added that misinformation is circulating on social media about the state’s plan to designate 30% of each island’s nearshore waters as part of a network of marine management areas by 2030.

“The rumors are gonna be rampant, ‘oh they’re gonna shut down 30% of the shorelines,’ when that really isn’t true,” Watamura said.

What is true is the concern anglers feel about restrictions being placed on them without having a say.

“One of the main questions is that 30% where does that come from, how is that designated, hopefully they get the fisherman involved into trying to decide where that 30% is gonna be,” Watamura said.

The problem Watamura says is the state doesn’t take into account shores not open to fishermen like military bases and areas blocked by natural barriers like cliffs

“They’re not taking into account that so much of the coastline is already inaccessible,” he added. “It’s up to the fishermen to be involved in the process, to get a say, to have their voice heard, you know, because without it, somebody else is going to decide what the rules are.”

The state says these meetings are just the beginning.

“There is nothing anything formalized yet. This is just talk story. And so there really is nothing written down yet. Besides we have an idea for a process. And this process, we wanted to pilot on Maui,” said Luna Kekoa, recreational fishing program manager for DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources.

Watamura agrees marine resources need to be managed, but this plan may not be the best way to tackle it.

“Conservation is part of it but we’re also stewards for the right of fishermen to keep fishing,” Watamura said. “(For) our children and our grandchildren and you know, generations to come.”

The state is looking for people to join the Maui Navigation team to help design the 30x30 initiative.

For more information,