Maui News

New Fisheries Enforcement Unit Created on Maui

May 27, 2011, 7:32 AM HST
* Updated May 27, 10:20 AM
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By Wendy Osher

DOCARE officers rescue a Hawaiian Monk Seal caught in a fishing net, courtesy photo.

The state will increase enforcement of nearshore fisheries by creating units to monitor conservation on Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island.

State officials say unsustainable coastal development and pollution, along with a high volume of fishing activity, have led to the decline of 75 percent of Hawai’i’s nearshore fish population.

The specialized units will focus exclusively on fisheries enforcement, starting first with the neighbor islands.

DLNR Director William Aila Jr. said the result will be improvement in compliance, and in turn, healthier fish stocks and increased seafood security for island residents.

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“Our management priority is to protect our state’s natural resources and to enforce existing rules and laws in place for that purpose,” said Aila.

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“The establishment of Fisheries Enforcement Units is a historic and monumental step forward for the DLNR and Hawai’i,” said Randy K. Awo, Acting DOCARE Enforcement Chief.

Governor Neil Abercrombie announced the joint initiative yesterday that includes participation from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, Conservation International, and the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation.

DOCARE monk seal rescue, courtesy photo.

“Hawai’i’s ecological, economic, and cultural well-being depends on how well we ensure these valuable marine stocks are responsibly fished and managed,” said Gov. Abercrombie. “People all across our islands, no matter what their perspective, have told me repeatedly that the key to protecting our fisheries is effective enforcement of our laws. This wisdom is a cornerstone of the New Day plan for environmental sustainability,” said the Governor.

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All partners are contributing funds to support the initiative including a $2 million commitment from Conservation International, $400,000 from HKL Castle, and $1.1 million from the Abercrombie Administration over the next two years.

“If we take care of the ocean, the ocean will take care of us,” said Terry George, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of HKL Castle. “This public-private partnership will help secure a future for Hawai’i marked by abundant fisheries and healthy marine ecosystems.”

DOCARE, the enforcement arm of DLNR, currently has 94 conservation and resource enforcement officers across that state that are responsible for all laws, rules and regulations that fall under the DLNR.

Each new Fisheries Enforcement Unit will consist of one supervisory captain, two field officers, one educational specialist and one administrative support position. Each unit will also have a boat, boat storage facilities close to ocean entry points, and maintenance and fuel budgets to ensure adequate surveillance time on the water.

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