'The biggest threat is people': A Molokai hui proposes its own regulations to prevent overfishing
Moomomi, Molokai - Uncle Mac Poepoe and his ohana have fished along the pristine coastline of Moomomi on the northern side of Molokai for generations.
And for decades, he's seen a decline in fish.
"The biggest threat is people. People's behavior. Overfishing," said Poepoe.
So a group called Hui Malama o Moomomi, on behalf of Hoolehua homesteaders, created proposed regulations under a Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area that stretches about 17 miles — from Ilio Point on the island's northwest tip to Kaholaiki Bay.
It's supposed to protect Native Hawaiian traditional fishing practices while reducing overfishing.
Earlier this year, the DLNR held meetings on the proposed regulations to gather community input.
"If we don't have limits, not going to be too many fish for us in the future," said Poepoe.
Other fishermen, though, are against the proposed rules.
"The rules and regulations that they want to implement, it infringes on rights of Native Hawaiians," said William "Yama" Kaholoaa.
He believes there's are still plenty of fish and outside regulation isn't needed.
Under the proposed rules, two species of uhu, ulu eleele and uhu uliuli, would be kapu.
There would be bag limits on other species of uhu palukaluka, uhu ahuula, kole, moi and spiny lobster. Plus, proposed size limits on opihi and no taking of limu with its roots still attached.
The proposal also includes no night diving, no scuba spearfishing and no commercial fishing not including recreational or charter operations.
In 2014, the state Land Board approved similar rules for Haena.
It was the first-ever package of rules by Native Hawaiian subsistence fishers from the community itself.
State Rep. Kaniela Ing, chairman of the Ocean, Marine Resources and Hawaiian Affairs committee, said he supports the model.
"It's like their ice box. The kupuna know the breeding patterns, tides better than any Washington bureaucrat," he said. "It's all about shifting power to the the community most affected and allow them to make decisions for themselves."
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