Where are the fishers? And what do they think of management? While a common question for aquatic resource managers working in communities throughout Hawaii, there is usually little to no follow through from management, nor are there opportunities provided for open discussion and engagement. This has resulted in barriers between communities and government and created an atmosphere of mistrust. The Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Aquatic Resources has taken an innovative approach using a traditional method of engaging fishers through a fishers working group, made up of representatives from various sectors of fishing, from different islands, and usually having diverse perspectives on similar issues. The working group allows fishers the opportunity to voice issues and concerns, as well as engage in face-to-face discussion with resource and project managers where valuable feedback is shared with DLNR.
Throughout the course of four in-person meetings DAR staff and fishers continued to strengthen their relationship by implementing ground rules such as creating a safe place for sharing with no judgements or consequences. This forum has enabled the Department and fishers to focus on areas of collaboration to conserve and improve fishery resources. This poster highlights some of the ways fishers contribute to conservation. These are the thoughts and perspectives of fishery resiliency through the eyes (and words) of Hawaii’s fishers.
Invasive species removal + Roi round up
Applying lessons from the land to the ocean, the idea of eradicating introduced invasive species has seen a strong surge in support from fishers, especially the diving community. One fisher mentioned we should “Consider a Statewide Roi Round Up Day with WORKING GROUP island reps coordinating”. While ecological benefits may be minimal, the biggest impact is with the social benefits of building capacity and relations through collaborations. As another fisher explained “Community groups partner with fishers from other areas to promote collaboration in management thru removal of introduced species”
BRFA Self Enforcement: Ask any resource user what is the biggest need, and they will respond with enforcement and needing more officers. But what about building compliance and self enforcement? Members of the Fisher working group shared some of their thoughts of how they “Tried before with 1998 BRFA implementation; PROBLEM: No enforcement "hammer" and calls to DOCARE never acted upon. The few bad apples caused many to violate BRFA because of the absence of consequences. The whole BRFA rule needs to be reviewed as it was based on the 1998 assessment of onaga and ehu. This is best done by DAR working with the BF fishing community. The review and rewrite of the rule would be one that would demonstrate HOW collaborative management can achieve desired results. Stakeholders need to be a part of the discussion, analysis and solution just like the 2018 BF Stock Assessment. Scientists and managers cannot effectively manage our fisheries if they are not knowledgeable of how the fishery is conducted and operates.”
Participation in Management: There is a lot of written literature on the topic of Fisher Participation in Management. If you do a google search you’ll get 23,000,000 results, including studies, documents, pilot projects, and research papers. Part of management is the process as one fisher explained "The bag limits for Uhu and goats was fishermen led, and fishermen initiated." All members of the Fisher working group in some way or form participate in management including their participation in the working group. Being a part of the process allows the fishers face to face opportunities to share suggestions such as “The periodic review of rules is imperative to ensure that rules fit the current condition of the fisheries. Additionally, "sunset dates" are requisite to ensure that rules are still appropriate, effective, or in need of revision or deletion.”
Tagging Projects: Fishers have expressed interest in ways they can support data collection to monitor the sustainability of resources they harvest. As a fisher in the working group shared “Management decisions are better supported by fishermen when they are part of the process. Tagging programs encourage cooperative research between fishermen and fishery scientists in gathering data for management assessments.” There are numerous tagging programs and opportunities for fishers to participate, especially for those who care and want to help. As another fisher explained "Fishing for Data" is a subject near and dear to me as I have worked with the Pacific Island Fisheries Group (PIFG), the Western Pacific Advisory Council (WESPAC), and the Pacific Island Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) with bottomfish tagging , tag recoveries, cooperative research fishing, oio tagging, etc. and there are tag recovery contact centers for bottomfish, papio/ulua, oio, kaku, striped marlin, and tunas!
Stock Enhancement: Fishers support the idea of restoration, as they understand that in order to harvest resources, there needs to be a source. Fishers have noticed the decrease in fish stocks of targeted prized species such as Moi. As one fisher expressed "I’m a total fan of Stock Enhancement, I’m not a fan of Government footing the entire $$ for it. This is a great issue where Aquaculture (private sector), Government and fishers could work together. We did it in the past and the biggest obstacle was DAR. How can DAR work with us fishers to start replenishing stocks so we can continue fishing?"
Lawai‘a Camps: The mission of the Lawai’a ’Ohana Camps are to develop and revitalize a culture of pono fishing in Hawai’i, transform community connections to their ’aina (land) and kai (ocean), increase community capacity for marine resource management and improve local seafood security by engaging fishing families and their communities.(1) A member of the fisher working group shared this thought…“Fishing to feed one’s family is embedded in our DNA. Yet, the conveniences of modern life distract us from the practice of passing on generational knowledge. Lawai‘a Camps create space for keiki to reconnect with their environment, experience fishing as ‘ohana and community, and allows values and traditions to be shared from one generation to the next.”
Public Service Announcements (PSAs)
PSAs are created for the public interest to raise awareness, as well as change public attitudes and behavior towards a social issue. In regards to fishing, who better to share the message and how it affects them than fishers? As one fisher stated "the Pacific Islands Fisheries Group (PIFG) and affiliate fishing clubs like ATAPAC FC, WAIALUA BC, KAKAAKO CASTING CLUB, etc. continually pursue the education of our future fishermen through PSA's like the one featuring kids learning size limits of fish; participating with the Boy Scouts of America annual Makahiki, assisting scouts earn their merit badges for fishing responsibly; working with communities on all the islands including Molokai with keiki fishing derbies; barbless hook projects, papio tagging etc"