Governor signs into law first community-based subsistence fishing area rules

Governor David Ige signed into law Tuesday a historic rule package for the Haʻena Community-based Subsistence Fishing Area. The approved rules will govern fishing in the six square-mile Haʻena Community-based Subsistence Fishing Area, established by the legislature in 2006.

State laws passed in 1992 and 2004 allow marine areas in Hawaii like Haʻena to be designated as Community-based Subsistence Fishing Areas, intended to protect fishing practices “customarily and traditionally exercised for the purposes of native Hawaiian subsistence, culture, and religion.”

The rules for Haʻena are the first-ever adopted by the state for this type of marine area, and include traditionally defined boundaries, gear, harvesting and practice restrictions, subzones and replenishment areas, time restrictions, and size, species and catch limits.

The Hui Makaʻainana o Makana, a group of traditional and lineal descendants of Haʻena’s Native Hawaiian families and other community members, worked in partnership with the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and spearheaded the effort to document and adopt the best traditional and science-based management and enforcement practices to restore and sustain the fishing area.

On Wednesday, Aug. 5, the Hui Makaʻainana o Makana and E Alu P — a statewide network of over 32 grassroots malama ʻaina groups — will be receiving the HCA Conservation Innovation Award acknowledging their leadership in building a grassroots movement for community-based natural resource management.

“As one of the last kupuna lawaiʻa of this area, I feel this is an important step for the future generations. Many good people shared their knowledge and passed away in the time it took us to get here. Like many of them, it has been one of my life’s goals to see this happen,” said Tom Hashimoto, a lifelong Haʻena resident who helped researchers document the traditional practices and names of the ahupuaʻa and one of many kupuna (elder) fishers who worked on the rules.

“We are simply asking that when you fish in our community, you respect our traditions, and the way we fish,” said Keliʻi Alapai,Vice President of the Hui. “These rules are about feeding our families and our ability to pass on our traditions to our children and grandchildren,”

A number of other rural Hawaiian communities look to propose similar rule packages under the CBSFA law, and have been closely following the progress of the Haʻena fishing rules.

“We are happy for this outcome; it is a big load off for the people who have been doing the hard work. This also opens the door for people like me and other communities who are thinking about this,” said Kelson “Mac” Poepoe, President of the Hui Mālama o Moʻomomi, and the first native Hawaiian fisher to lead an effort for CBSFA rules.

Since 1992, two other communities — Moʻomomi on the island of Molokai and the rural fishing community of Miloliʻi on Hawaii island — have also succeeded in securing the CBSFA designation, but the state has not yet approved rules for either community.

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