No more scuba spearfishing on the West Coast of Hawaii and better be careful when collecting fish for the aquarium as the board approved the ban and restrictions.
Members of the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources have cast their votes which have resulted to prohibiting people to go spearfishing by diving while armed with a scuba gear off the coast of West Hawaii. They also decided to impose a limit to 40 different species of fish for aquarium collecting in the area and have reinstated the boundaries of a managed fishing area in Puako after gathering updated data on the reef.
The ban was approved after a 4-2 vote and six hours of testimonials by fishermen who appealed not to continue the ban. Board Chairman William Aila and member David Goode were against the ban. Favoring the ban was a member from Big Island, Robert Pacheco, joined by three other members of the board.
According to the fishermen, there was not enough reason to implement the ban based on the rules of science. They were also concerned that the ban of spearfishing in the coast of West Hawaii would become a banning precedent that could lead to future bans of spearfishing all over the state.
On the other hand, supporters of the ban defended their stand by claiming that scuba divers go for larger fish. They have explained that larger female fish produce offspring that have better survival and growth rate than those that are produced by younger and smaller fish. Furthermore, they added that scuba fishermen would hunt in the deeper part of the ocean where most fish would take refuge.
Scuba fishermen certainly know which type of fish lays the most eggs and would target them. Mel Malinosky from South Kohala has expressed that these eggs should be left untouched in West Hawaii.
“This is not about restricting Hawaiian gathering practices. If we have regular spearfishing —the reef could handle that. There are advanced technologies that are taking too much,” Malinosky said in an interview.
Fernandez, a resident of Kona, has argued that there were other important factors to consider aside from overfishing when evaluating the damages done to the reefs. These factors include development, cesspools, and use of fertilizer.
The scuba ban was able to gather a 90 percent support from 565 residents of West Hawaii. The proposed rules of the ban were developed after a decade of discussion and hearings have been scheduled at the West Hawaii Fisheries Council.