For around ten years, the fate of spear fishing has been in question in West Hawaii, and after all this time, a decision has finally been made in terms of the regulations relating to this pursuit going forward. The State Board of Land and Natural Resources has done what many thought was on the cards, and has outright banned scuba assisted spear fishing off the shores of West Hawaii, and has also called for people to limit their collection of aquarium fish to 40 species at any one time. Remarkably, there were over six hours of testimony to take into account, before a board decision ruled 4 to 2 in favour of a ban and a reduction in the number of aquarium fish to be kept.
Why the Ban?
The reasons for the move to ban is due to the belief that scuba powered spear fishermen are targeting fish in deeper waters, which has created new targets in terms of the types of fish caught. Grey and Pink Snapper fish have been hunted to a high degree and this has caused people to act. This is backed up by an independent survey which was conducted last year, the results of which showed that an impressive near ninety percent of respondents agreed with the idea of a scuba aided spear fishing ban.
One of the biggest considerations is that people believe that scuba propelled spear fishing targets larger fish. It is a widely held belief that larger fish develop more quickly than other fish, and the area needs to safeguard these creatures. South Kohala resident Mr Malinosky was happy to testify that scuba fishermen targeted the fish which lay the most eggs, and he strongly believed that these fish need to be kept in the waters of West Hawaii. However, people associated with the pursuit have defended their actions and criticized the decision to put the ban in place.
Against the Ban
Tony Costa, a Hawaii Near shore fisherman defended their pursuit of fish in this way. He stated that “The use of scuba and spear is the nature of our gathering style. We have been sustainably gathering, harvesting in this manner for the last 50 years.” He also implied that the new rules surrounding the approach of this type of fishing would make fishing more dangerous, and would impede the community’s ability to collect food.
Will this Help?
The State Board of Land and Natural Resources have come forward and defended their decision, citing the improved ability to more easily regulate the industry. Marine resources will be managed far more easily, and it should lead to a reduction in the decimation of the population of some rare aquatic species.
It will be interesting to see what sort of effect the ban creates. Some believe that this style of fishing will continue, but many against the ban believe that it will create a domino effect in other Hawaii areas, and eventually lead to a complete ban on scuba spear fishing across the island. Time will tell, but for now, there is a marked change in the laws of spear fishing in West Hawaii.