Specialized Patrol Unit to Protect Nearshore Fisheries
By Wendy Osher
Officials from DLNR hosted an open house and blessing of a new Community Fisheries Enforcement Unit patrol vessel on Maui over the weekend.
The unit is part of a pilot program that is set to launch in Maui waters this spring, covering a 13 mile stretch of coastline from Hulu Island below Waihe’e to Baldwin Beach Park in Paia.
The ceremonial blessing included participation from the DLNR, Conservation International Hawaii Fish Trust, and the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation.
The vessel is part of the first Community Fisheries Enforcement Unit in Hawai’i, focusing on the protection of near shore fisheries through community collaboration and the creation of enforcement models that are more focused and efficient.
The boat was gifted from CI to the State of Hawaii and will be operated by DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement.
“CI’s Hawaii Fish Trust program is invested in restoring seafood security in Hawaii, and returning to an abundant and healthy ocean that sustains high yields of seafood for generations to come,” said Jason Philibotte, the director of the Hawaii Fish Trust for CI in a press release.
According to state DLNR officials, the average seafood consumption is 45 pounds per person per year, or three times the average per capita seafood consumption on the US mainland.
Currently, the agency estimates that at least 74% of nearshore fish stocks in Hawai’i are depleted or in critical condition.
DOCARE Administrator, Randy Awo commented in a media statement as well saying, “This initiative project focuses on the protection of our near shore fisheries through community collaboration and the creation of enforcement models that are more focused and efficient.”
The specialized unit will reportedly include three DOCARE officers, a Makai Watch coordinator, a program coordinator, and a data manager. State officials plan to eventually establish additional units across the state.
***Supporting information courtesy Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources.