Rep. Mina Morita's Blog

No Fishes, No Fishermen

Posted in Environmental Protection,Issues,Kauai,Oceans/Water,Sustainability by Mina Morita on October 15, 2010

Reacting to the convoluted discussion surrounding the Hawaiian Island Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary management plan review, a fisherman asked me if I was for or against fishermen.  My simple answer to that question is I am for the fish – no fishes, no fishermen.

I understand that fishing is a significant factor in keeping our island lifestyle and culture but this important resource is dependent on maintaining a healthy ocean ecosystem.  Unfortunately, indiscriminate fishing, the absence of comprehensive marine management and sensible regulations and enforcement have put our marine resources in jeopardy not only in Hawaii but throughout the world.  Kupuna Louis “Buzzy” Agard describes the situation we now face:

In our oceans today, too many people are fighting over a diminished resource. I have been fishing in Hawai‘i for more than 60 years. I remember when there were dense schools of fish in Hawai‘i. But I can tell you from experience, times have changed. Our food fish are now a commodity, and when a limited natural resource becomes a commodity, you have the tragedy of the commons – everybody keeps taking, but nobody takes care. If we learn to take care, and to take only what we need in a responsible manner, then maybe we can be proud of the future we pass on to our children.

Our best efforts have to be brought forth to ensure a thriving fishing community.  It was not long ago that our nearshore waters were managed through a konohiki with strict rules and serious consequences.  Our Hawaiian ancestors truly understood that having a thriving fishery was a matter of survival and responsibility.  Rebuilding our fisheries can only happen through a thoughtful discussion and acknowledging our kuleana as an island community dependent on our ocean, not through rumors, fear and speculation.  Hopefully, the Hawaii Humpback Whale Sanctuary management plan review can be seized as an opportunity to redirect federal and state resources not to focus solely on target species but to identify what it will take to restore a thriving and diverse marine ecosystem to enhance the quality of our island lifestyle.

Navigator Nainoa Thompson says, “It’s time for us to recognize the value of our ocean, and understand that we are in a time of decline . . . We must rebuild a culture of an ocean community. This will require a partnership among scientists, government, and those who use and love the ocean like I do. It’s about values and responsibility, and is truly a matter of survival.”

6 Responses to 'No Fishes, No Fishermen'

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  1. Makaala said,

    well said, mahalo for your good thinking on this current issue. much of what is being “shouted” has no relation to the management plan or the process for reviewing it. we must work together to restore our resources to a sustainable level, it is our kuleana.

  2. Kauaibrad said,

    This is the scoping period of an evaluation of the Pacific Humpback Whale Sanctuary. With this, the parameters are being set for the rest of the evaluation and debate of the sanctuary. One side, the government and environmentalists want to set the assumed parameters to be expansion of the sanctuary. The other side is saying the Northern Humpback Whale has recovered and may soon be taken off the endangered species list, mission accomplished due to the whaling ban, so why the need to expand the sanctuary? Their concern is that by adding species, already protected by other laws, that we could be creating a ‘justification’ to unnecessarily maintain and expand another arbitrary federal program removed from local control. The parameters of the debate are being set now, and the local people realize that and are rightly so worried about it.

    • Mina Morita said,

      It’s one thing to be worried but it’s hysteria that has taken over.

  3. Tommy Friel said,

    Very well put. As a Supervisory Special Agent with NOAA OLE I have worked with Uncle Buzzy and Nainoa over the years. We should set our path for the future on the wisdom of those who have walked in the past. Malama pono. Tommy Friel

    • Mina Morita said,

      Is this the Thomas Friel, KS class of 72? Thanks so much for contacting me with your comments.

  4. It seems that the easy to remember simple messages are those that penetrate the defenses people have to hearing. Bravo and keep up your good work and intentions. I attend meetings and do the best I can as well.

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