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Friday, January 12, 2001

Fisheries expert
touts Texas model

Forum to explore recreational
licenses for saltwater anglers

By Helen Altonn

The general image of Texas usually doesn't involve fish, Hal Osburn, the state's senior marine manager, acknowledges.

But he says, "Believe it or not, we have four million acres of salt water and 370 linear miles of beachfront."

The state has a big commercial fishing industry employing about 20,000 people and almost one million saltwater sports fishermen, he said.

And it has problems similar to those in Hawaii and many other parts of the country involving use of ocean resources, he said in an interview.

Osburn was with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for 25 years and has been in his present position about seven years.

He will be key speaker at a "Hawaii Fisheries and Ocean Users Forum: Restoring Resources and Resolving Conflicts" from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow at the Ala Moana Hotel.

He said George W. Bush's marine policy as governor of Texas was what Bush called a "market-based management approach."

This involves finding sustainable practices for industries using the resources, whether recreational or commercial, Osburn said.

"If you can make industry sustainable from an economic standpoint, then you by default will have a biological sustainable resource. That can create a win-win for the users and for the resource."


Texas, Osburn said, commercial fishing was far exceeding what was necessary to harvest a sustainable portion of the resources. Some endangered sea turtle issues were involved, as well as conflicts between commercial and recreational fishermen, he said.

Bush signed into law some limited entry programs for commercial fish, crab and finfish industries and grandfathered in all historical participants, Osburn said.

The program included provisions allowing the state to buy licenses from grandfathered fishermen if they wanted to sell them and get income to go into another business, he said.

"That left fewer people in the fishery, so competition was reduced, and people who remained in the fishery had greater economic profit."

Osburn said he expects president-elect Bush to follow the same practice on the federal level that he did as governor -- looking to scientists and stakeholders to help resolve issues and make suggestions, even if they're controversial.

Tomorrow's forum, open to the public, is intended to bring ocean users together to reach a consensus on issues to be pursued during the legislative session.

Speakers will include Mike Markrich, Malama Na I'a president; Kitty Simonds, executive director, Western Pacific Fishery Management Council; Gil Coloma-Agaran, new state Department of Land and Natural Resources chairman, state Sen. Lorraine Inouye; state Rep. Ezra Kanoho, and U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye.

Panel discussions will be held on near-shore management challenges, legal challenges and solutions.

Special presentations will be made during a complimentary luncheon by Jeff Polovina of the National Marine Fisheries Service on the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands ecosystem and Paul Dalzell, Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, on fisheries for tuna and other pelagic species in the central and western Pacific.

Forum to explore
recreational licenses for
saltwater anglers

Star-Bulletin staff

Recreational fishing licenses could be a way for saltwater anglers to tap into federal funds, according to Richard Shiroma of the Recreational Fishery Data Task Force.

Freshwater and saltwater recreational fisheries share $1.6 million in federal funds each year, but without an accurate count of saltwater anglers it's hard to determine how to distribute the money, Shiroma said. That's not a problem among freshwater fishermen, who are required to purchase annual licenses for $5.

Shiroma will field comments and questions about recreational saltwater fishing licenses and other issues concerning recreational fishermen at the 2nd Annual Fisheries and Ocean Users Forum Saturday at Ala Moana Hotel.

The benefit to having fishermen and catch counts is that the accurate data can be used in applying for program funding, Shiroma said. A possible use for the funding could be restocking the recreational fisheries with mahimahi, ono, ahi and saltwater fish.

Hawaii is one of the few states without recreational fishing licenses, but so far the state has made no move to institute a licensing program, Shiroma said.

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