Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023|
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A sign at Miloli‘i.
Yellow tang swim around the reef at Miloli‘i.
The Board of Land and Natural Resources has approved new rules to further protect the waters around Miloli‘i.
The state Legislature designated Miloli‘i as the Miloli‘i Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area in 2005, an act which was intended to protect the cultural fishing practices of the village. Since then, however, once-abundant reef fish have continued to decline, threatening the practices that the Fishing Area was established to protect.
In response, the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Aquatic Resources proposed a series of new rules to further protect the local ecosystem, including reduced daily bag limits and amended area boundaries.
Specifically, the new rules establish which marine life species are protected within the Fishing Area. For example, while there are no state laws protecting the ‘a‘ama crab, the new rules would prohibit the taking of female crabs with eggs.
Similarly, bag limits for certain fish would be reduced within the Fishing Area. The taking of paku‘iku‘i, also called the Achilles tang, is completely prohibited until July 1, 2027, after which bag limits will increase to five per day.
The rules also establish boundaries for different sub-areas within the Fishing Area. One is the “Paku‘iku‘i Rest Area,” where the taking of paku‘iku‘i will remain prohibited even after 2027.
DAR aquatic biologist Chris Teague told the land board Thursday that members of the Fishing Area collectively decided to impose the total bag limit to reduce stress on the species’ population and give it time to restore while biologists learn more about its behavior.
No aquarium fishing is permitted anywhere in the entire Fishing Area, and additional rules clarify definitions and equipment restrictions within the area’s boundaries.
Members of the Miloli‘i community voiced their support for the new rules at Thursday’s BLNR hearing. Resident Uilani Naipo praised the efforts of DAR to reach out to Miloli‘i and develop the rules with input from the village’s community.
“Miloli‘i will always do what it does,” Naipo said. “It has been doing that, rules or no rules … but in this time and age when people believe they have freedom for access … it was time to partner up with DAR. It was time to ask for help.”
“This has been a long road for the people of Miloli‘i, but they persevered,” said BLNR chair Suzanne Case. “The designation of the (Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area) will ensure long-term sustainable populations of fish and other marine species and encourage the scientific study and understanding of subsistence fishing management.”
The BLNR voted unanimously in support of the rules, which will take effect upon the signature of Gov. David Ige.
Email Michael Brestovansky at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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