Hā’ena CBSFA Rules = APPROVED

We constantly find inspiration in the persistence and tenacity of the many leaders in our communities.

Tenacity: the quality or fact of being able to grip something firmly. Synonyms of this word include determination, perseverance, doggedness, strength of purpose, resoluteness, patience, steadfastness, endurance, stubbornness, tirelessness.

It isn’t fair to say that our community leaders never get tired because they certainly do get weary. But in the face of uncertainty, challenges, disappointment, and struggles, the fact that their enduring spirit allows them to keep a firm grasp on their traditions, ideals, and goals…that is what inspires us.

The tenacity of the Hā’ena community resulted in a unanimous vote of approval from the Hawai’i State Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) for a package of fishing rules proposed by Native Hawaiian subsistence fishers of Hā’ena. This is the first time the BLNR approved such an initiative, and it signals a positive change in tide for community-based management in Hawai’i. Learn more by reading the press release below (also included as a PDF here: Press Release: Hā’ena CBSFA Rules).

The joyous atmosphere upon hearing the Boardʻs decision. Photo by Sean Marrs.

The joyous atmosphere upon hearing the Boardʻs decision. Photo by Sean Marrs.

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BLNR Approves CBSFA Rules Proposed by Native Hawaiian Subsistence Fishers in Historic & Unanimous Vote

HONOLULU, HI. October 24, 2014 – For the first time ever, the Hawaiʻi State Board of Land of Natural Resources (BLNR) today approved a package of fishing rules proposed by Native Hawaiian subsistence fishers. The BLNR approved the rules for the rural north shore Kauaʻi community of Hāʻena with a unanimous vote. The Hui Makaʻāinana o Makana, a group of lineal, ancestral Native Hawaiian families, submitted the proposed rules to the state in 2011. The approved rules will govern fishing in the six square-mile Hāʻena Community-based Subsistence Fishing Area, established by the legislature in 2006.

“This is a historic decision, for Hāʻena and for Hawai‘i,” said Presley Wann, President of the Hui Makaʻāinana o Makana. “For the first time in over a hundred years we are taking a step towards managing our resources, for our place. It is really encouraging to us to see the state acknowledge our co-partnership in managing natural resources.”

A state law passed in 1992 (HRS 188-22.6) allows marine areas in Hawaiʻi to be designated as a Community-based Subsistence Fishing Area (CBSFA), intended to protect fishing practices “customarily and traditionally exercised for the purposes of native Hawaiian subsistence, culture, and religion.” The rules for Hāʻena are the first-ever adopted by the state for this type of marine area, and include traditionally defined boundaries, gear, harvesting and practice restrictions, subzones and replenishment areas, time restrictions, and size, species and catch limits.

“We are simply asking that when you fish in our community, you respect our traditions, and the way we fish. These rules are about feeding our families, and our ability to pass on our traditions to our children and grandchildren,” said Keliʻi Alapai, a lifelong Hāʻena resident and one of the Hāʻena fishers who worked on the rules.

Supporters filled the boardroom and overflow areas, many wearing “Support Hāʻena, Lawai‘a Pono” t-shirts. Over four hours of testimony was presented to the board. One individual testified in opposition. Two others supported but with some reservations. The remaining testimony was overwhelmingly in support, including individuals and fishers from communities representing Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Maui, Molokai, Lānaʻi, and Hawaiʻi Island.

A number of other rural Hawaiian communities are looking to propose similar rule packages under the CBSFA law, and have been closely following the progress of the Hāʻena fishing rules. “We are happy for this outcome; it is a big load off for the people who have been doing the hard work. This also opens the door for people like me and other communities who are thinking about this,” said Kelson “Mac” Poepoe, President of the Hui Mālama o Moʻomomi, and the first native Hawaiian fisher to lead an effort for CBSFA rules.

Since 1992, two other communities — Moʻomomi on the island of Molokai and the rural fishing community of Milolii on Hawaii island — have also succeeded in securing the CBSFA designation, but the state has not yet approved rules for either community.

“Its a monumental day for the communities of Hawai‘i. The passage of the Hāʻena rules will forever change the face of resource management in Hawai‘i. Today’s vote honors communities and the peoples’ connection to their place and their resources,” said Hiʻilei Kawelo, Board President of Kuaʻāina Ulu ʻAuamo (KUA), a local non-profit focused on community-based resource management. KUA facilitated a community process in Hāʻena to develop the Community-based Subsistence Fishing Area rules.

“These rules are an important and historic step towards the fulfillment of the state’s responsiblity to affirmatively protect and enforce the traditional and customary practices of Native Hawaiians,” said Dr. Kamanaʻopono Crabbe, CEO of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. “Community-based management using traditional standards of conduct sustained the Hawaiian people for generations, and the adoption of these rules will serve to restore culture and bring life and abundance back to the fisheries of Hāʻena, and of the state.”

“This makes me feel that all the hard work and effort of so many people was worth it, to be here for this occasion,” said Tom Hashimoto, a lifelong Hāʻena resident and one of the Hāʻena kupuna (elder) fishers who worked on the rules.

Kevin Chang on behalf of KUA providing testimony before the Board.

Kevin Chang on behalf of KUA providing testimony before the Board. Photo by Sean Marrs.

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About the Hui Makaʻāinana o Makana

The Hui Makaʻāinana o Makana (Hui) is a consortium of lineal descendants of the traditional inhabitants of the ahupua’a (traditional land division) of Hāʻena, on the north shore of Kauaʻi. This ahupuaʻa includes the Hāʻena State Park and encompasses many wahi pana (celebrated places) which were interwoven with traditional practices such as agriculture, aquaculture, fishing, and hula, among others.

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