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Demonstrators decry closure of fish hatchery


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POSTED: Sunday, June 28, 2009

About a dozen people waved “;Save the Fish”; signs in front of the state Capitol yesterday, protesting the closing of Anuenue Fish Hatchery, which provides catfish for Nuuanu Reservoir and trout for Kokee State Park on Kauai.

Budget cuts prompted the decision by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to close of the hatchery Wednesday, said DLNR chairwoman Laura Thielen.

“;We can't continue to do 'business as usual,'”; said Thielen. “;These steps are necessary, given the over 20 percent reduction in general funds imposed by the legislature.”;

The closing of the hatchery will affect nearly 8,000 anglers who fish for trout and catfish at Kokee State Park and Nuuanu Reservoir, respectively, every year.

Protesters said they want to get the word out and rally more people to help save the hatchery.

“;There are people in the DLNR who are anti-fishing,”; said Louie Denolfo, the organizer of the protest and the secretary of Trout Unlimited Hawaii. “;They are trying to manipulate policy without any input from the public. They're doing it from the inside in a very undemocratic way.”;

Last year, the state spent $121,600 in state general funds, and got an additional estimated $300,000 from the federal government, to run the fish hatchery, the DLNR said.

The department hopes to transfer the $300,000 in federal funds to a program to reduce algae and improve fish habitat using sea urchins.

Thielen said the department is consolidating its programs and focusing on its core mission to protect and conserve Hawaii's natural, cultural, and historic resources.

Robin Fujikawa doesn't even fish, but traveled from Kapolei to help save the hatchery.

“;I think the natural environment of our islands needs all the help (it) can get,”; said Fujikawa, who held a sign that said “;Save Anuenue Fishery.”;

“;In these days when so much is being depleted, we have to restock and take care of our environment,”; he said.