Hā‘ena Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area moves forward

The BLNR voted today to approve public hearings regarding the adoption of a new rule that would create a subsistence fishing area on Kaua‘i.

Will Caron

Today, the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) heard a request for approval to hold public meetings and hearings to adopt a new chapter under Hawaiʻi Administrative Rules (HAR) as Title 13 Chapter 60.8.

After hearing testimony from Frazer McGilvray, Administrator of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) as well as several native Hawaiian stakeholders, all of whom support the new rule, the board unanimously voted in favor of allowing the meetings and hearings.

“The Division has been working with the Hā‘ena community and with the [Hā‘ena] Fisheries Committee since 2006,” said McGilvray. “We are before you today to request that you authorize and approve the holding of public meetings regarding this new rule.”

Should the approved public hearings result in adoption of the new chapter under HAR, a new Hā‘ena Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area would be established on Kaua‘i, with the purpose of managing and protecting fish stocks, and of reaffirming traditional and customary native Hawaiian subsistence fishing practices within the Ahupua‘a of Hā‘ena.

Presley Wann, president of Hui O Maka‘ainana, testified that he was grateful to the BLNR for assisting in what has been a long and arduous process. “We—the Hā‘ena community—recognize the importance of this process, because there are other communities statewide that are watching and learning from us. Please let the communities across the state assist the DLNR in managing our natural resources, as stated in DLNR’s mission statement.”

The Hui consists of roughly 50 members and is dedicated to the restoration of agricultural taro complexes within Hā‘ena State Park and were instrumental in the formation of the Hā‘ena Fisheries Committee.

“We are so impressed by the vision and the dedication to process that the Hā‘ena community has shown,” said Suzanne Case, Executive Director of the Nature Conservancy. “They believe very strongly in restoring our fisheries and taking care of our land and our sea and they’ve worked very hard for a log time to draw on both tradition and the State process. They’ve been very respectful of both and I think that is completely admirable.”

“We really need to look at other [food] options, especially for lean proteins. Those are the most expensive things we go through,” said Food Basket Executive Director En Young. “I think this process will reestablish communities’ abilities to feed themselves, which comes with a great amount of pride.”

Before the vote, board member Thomas Oi, who is from Kaua‘i, made a tight-throated, emotional speech in support of the plan. “I’m all for this because—every time I see people from Hanalei … I get touchy on this issue as well,” he laughed. “I’ve said in meetings—this is something that will help our people throughout the State of Hawai‘i. Therefore I would like to make a motion to approve item F7 of the agenda.”

All five members voted with resounding “ayes.”