Bill Aims to Address Overharvesting of Opihi

March 1, 2012, 10:54 AM HST · Updated March 1, 10:55 AM
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Opihi, file photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

A bill that seeks to establish harvesting and possession restrictions on opihi (saltwater Hawaiian limpets) surfaces for discussion today before the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee.

Lawmakers say the popularity of the food as a delicacy has led to statewide over-harvesting and a decline of natural populations.

The measure would specifically limit the amount of ophi gathered for non-commercial purposes to one quart with shells attached, or one half pint without shells, per day.

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The measure states that the amount of opihi available in markets has declined ten-fold in the past 40 years.

According to the measure, the most notable impact is on Oahu where one of the four species under consideration are a rare find, and another is “functionally absent.”

For the island of Oahu, the measure seeks to also establish a moratorium on the harvesting of opihi until June 30, 2017.

SB2923, SD1 would further require the department of land and natural resources to submit an annual report regarding effectiveness and enforcement.

The measure would be subject to open and closed sessions and traditional gathering rights and practices.

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