Meeting attendees oppose restrictions on gill-net fishing
Fishermen and others turned out at a Kaneohe hearing last night to criticize rules that would restrict lay gill-net fishing.
"I strongly, stubbornly and I hope very clearly am against this proposed set of rules," said Jim Anthony, executive director of Hawaii-Laieikawai Association, as he led off testimony at one of five hearings around the state yesterday. Hearings continue today and tomorrow.
Anthony called the rules drafted by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources "absolutely unreasonable" and questioned whether there is any scientific basis for them.
"The DLNR is going to take food off your tables, your children's tables and future generation's tables," Anthony said to hearty applause from a majority of 100 people in the Benjamin Parker School cafeteria.
The nets have been blamed for indiscriminately catching and killing immature and unwanted fish and of being a danger to sea turtles, monk seals and humans.
These monofilament nets are about 7 feet deep and 150 feet long and are strung out in the water and left for as long as overnight to catch fish.
The affected portions of Oahu would be between Portlock Point and the Pearl Harbor channel, from Mokapu Peninsula to Bellows Air Force Station, and in Kaneohe Bay between the ship channels.
Saying that turnout at public hearings is usually weighted toward those opposing a change, a coalition of conservation groups commissioned a telephone poll of Hawaii residents in June and July.
According to poll results done for the Fair Catch Campaign (www.faircatchhawaii.org), 76 percent of respondents said they support the proposed rules. And a majority say they favor a total ban of lay gill nets.
The campaign, launched yesterday, is a cooperative effort of the Nature Conservancy, Malama Hawaii and SeaWeb. Its poll was designed by Edge Research and conducted by QMark of Hawaii. It has an overall margin of error of 3.1 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.
The future of fishing in Hawaii waters also was cited by several speaking in favor of the new rules.
"I want to make sure my 1-year-old son has the chance to see fish that kupuna (elders) have seen," said Terry George, the executive director of the Harold K. Castle Foundation and a fisher and diver.
DLNR's proposed rules
The rules would:
» Ban all lay-net use around Maui and parts of Oahu.
» Ban lay-net use at night.
» Require lay nets to be registered.
» Limit net size and meshing.
» Limit the length of time the nets can be in the water unattended.