OPPOSITION Bill to Ban Lay Nets

The Hunting, Farming and Fishing Association opposes SB137 Relating to Lay Nets.


We oppose this measure due to the fact that nets are a method used to provide food for families and communities and the measure does not provide adequate reason to regulate these nets.  The current regulations that are in place have changed significantly throughout the past 10 years.   Each year, there are new regulations that are proposed and supported by the Department of Land and Natural Resource to include restrictions on soak time, net length, water depth, time of day, mesh size, and inspection requirements. Each new bill has been proposed by the Department based on the understanding that these new regulations can be enforced.  The Department’s justification in regard to this bill is that they are unable to regulate the current regulations implemented in the last few years, the lay nets harm the environment, and the bycatch problem has not been resolved. However, their data is based on bycatch caught since the 1990s.  This is not the fault of individuals that have adjusted and complied with the current regulations. This a lack of effort on by the Department to accept and work with individuals that use this method to gather food. 


The lay net method to gather food has been in existence for more than 50 years. The lay net is, and continues to be, a traditional method to gather food that has been passed down through generations.  Fishing has changed since 1778, and today we have many new methods to gather fish to feed our families.  This, like many types of fishing methods, is becoming a dying art with far fewer individuals participating and more government regulations limiting access and methods of gathering.  If this measure passes, we will effectively destroy a traditional practice used to feed families.


Bycatch happens and needs to be addressed.  No matter the method, there will be bycatch.  Using hook and line also results in bycatch to include turtles and monk seals.  The department and other federal agencies created a proactive campaign to encourage fishermen to de-hook and call in accidental catches.  How many individuals state wide have accidentaly hooked turtles or monk seals in the last 5 years, and how many of these accidental hooking resulted in death?  The department has implemented regulations in the last 5 years that are supposed to reduce bycatch.  Where are the results from the department since the regulations have been imposed and assumed to be regulated?  Were the seals and turtles a result of law-abiding lay netters or illegal lay netters? This needs to be addressed.


Hawaiian practice and tradition evolved with technology to include the use of lay nets.  Hawaiians culture was built on utilizing the resources to feed families and enhance living conditions.  To assume that the Hawaiians lived a perfect symbiotic relationship with the environment is not true, as can be pointed out with Kamehameha and the sandalwood trade in the late 1800s into the early 1900s.  Kamehameha had harvested sandalwood to the point of extinction to build wealth.  


Hawaiians continue to maintain Hawaiian tradition by using their resources to feed families and enhance living conditions.  We have embraced technology and improved our method of gathering from our resources with the use of the lay net.  The lay net is now an important part of our culture.  


The Hunting, Farming and Fishing association have seen many rules and regulations proposed each year to address public opinion and assumptions without sound justification.  We have seen fishermen and fishing methods villanized without an understanding or willingness to seek understanding.  If we allow this bill to pass, we are destroying a piece of our culture and taking food from individuals without just cause.  We cannot continue to add fishing regulations that slowly take away our ability to gather from our resources and takes away from the traditional cultural practices of Hawaii.

Aquarium Fishing and Hawaiian Culture

The Ancient Hawaiians were practical people that utilized their natural resources to sustain life and enhance their living conditions. If we look through history, we see that not much has changed. Today, Hawaiians still depend on their natural resources to survive. We remain resourceful and hard-working, which allows us to thrive off the land.

Aquarium Fishing and Hawaiian Culture

Aquarium Fishing and Hawaiian Culture

One of the current hot topic items in Hawaii is aquarium fishing. At this point, aquarium fishing is the most studied and regulated fishery in the Hawaiian Islands. It is still a relatively new fishery. Ancient Hawaiians did not target these fish, as there was no practical use for them prior to Captain Cook arriving in 1778. As an industry, aquarium fishing was simply nonexistent in ancient Hawaiian culture.

Many environmentalist groups choose to focus on this fact alone, proposing severe limitations and bans aquarium fishing as it was not initially part of Hawaiian culture. This view is incorrect, and in fact contrary to the values at the heart of Hawaiian Culture. 

While we still preserve the idea of utilizing our natural resources to survive, our culture has evolved. We now depend not only on the land, but on money for sustainability. Hawaiians have found new ways to feed their families and fuel Hawaii’s economy. The aquarium fish trade allows Hawaiian people to practice our culture by gathering from our resources, as did our ancestors.

Although Hawaiian culture is, in many ways, a positive model for our current society, it is not without its own flaws. There is a disjoint between what people believed the ancient Hawaiians to be, and what they actually were. It is commonly thought that Hawaiians never over harvested their resources, which is simply not true. Take, for example, Kamehameha, who sent his people to the forest to collect sandalwood as a means to increase his own wealth and become a prominent force in Hawaii. Kamehameha utilized this resource to the point of depletion.  To find the now scarce sandalwood, Hawaiians burnt entire forests, seeking out the sandalwood by smell.  With the people of Hawaii diverting their full attention to Kamehameha Sandalwood Trade, farms lay fallow and famine lingered.  Upon Kamehameha’s realization that his people were starving, he redirected the Hawaiians back to producing food.  

When Kamehameha received cows from Captain Vancouver, he allowed them to roam, grow, and populate the island. The cows went wild. Although not native to the islands, Kamehameha understood the value of this new resource and utilized it to feed the people. Today, many traditional environmentalists along with the Department of Land and Natural resources would rather eradicate entire herds of cow, sheep, goats, pigs and deer to keep areas pristine. These new groups of environmentalists are constantly marketing fear and propaganda into the Hawaiian Culture until it becomes a truth.  They are bending the decisions, values, and principles of politicians, Hawaiians, and our community by creating emotional value and using Hawaiians to push their agendas. 

Hawaiians have learned, like any great culture, from mistakes that have occurred. We all want to preserve our natural resources. However, many seem to focus on false assumptions that Hawaiian culture was perfect, and we should emulate that by opposing anything new. In truth, our new ways of utilizing our resources are a testament to values established by ancient Hawaiian culture. Kamehameha is just an example of how Hawaiians have always adapted to their environments. We can continue to be practical and conservative of our resources, while at the same time, embracing innovation. Evolving new ways to utilize our resources, while maintaining the core values of our ancient culture, is what allows us to survive.

Survival in Hawaii

Survival, gathering, and politics

Survival, gathering, and politics

Living in Hawaii is expensive.   Some might say almost impossible!  Some might say if you can not afford it leave!  Members of my family have moved.  Moved to the ninth island, Las Vegas.   Where the cost of living is cheaper and there seems to be an abundance of jobs.   Yet for those of us that do hold on to these island and our roots we try to survive the best way we know how.   And for many fishing, hunting, and farming is a common practice in efforts to subsidize income and feed our families.  

For those of us that own nothing and continue to live paycheck to paycheck, fishing or hunting is a vital component the basic means of survival.  When we take away an individuals ability to hunt both in land and ocean, we effectively made it harder to make end meet.  

In Hawaii, there are many that constantly try to bring to an end our ability to feed people.   The latest example was November 2, 2017 when a group of legislators orchestrated an informational conference on coral reef bleaching, overfishing, and the way ahead.   There goal to create new laws and legislative mandate to close of 30% of the Hawaiian Island.   Take into account the recent closures to the North West Hawaiian Islands, that is over 80% of what used to be fishing grounds and a food source to our local population.     So why are certain politicians making it harder to survive in Hawaii?  

There were many holes in yesterdays lecture by Dr. Friedlander.  But the news picked up on it and made it a life or death situation.   We have 90% less fish than 1900.   The amount of ulua is depleted, their are no more Oio, the stocks of Moi has plummeted.   Over 50% of the reef in Hawaii is dead?   This a real gloom and doom situation.   So how do we keep fishing grounds open if it seems like all it about to be lost.  Well we can first start with filling in the hole and fact checking the alleged research produced by Dr.  Allan Friedlander.

Dr. Friedlander stated in his discussion that there are 90% less fish in Hawaii based on Commercial catch data since 1900. This statement stuck with news reporters and certain legislators. However, if you look at the data, there are certain events and situations that caused less fish to be caught by commercial fishermen. Friedlander did not take into account or choses not to take into account that in early 1900 Ahi, Aku, Marlin and other Palagic fish, were reported in the commercial reef fish data. Then they separated the Pelagic and reef fish. This alone accounted most of the over a 80% decline. As a scientist when talking about reef fish, this guys should have factored this in. 

Then Dr. Friedlander also stated that the population of ulua dropped dramatically based on the commercial fish catches. Well another factor he did not take into account was Ciguatoxin, which accounted for the massive drop in the capture of Ulua. 

On top of that he stated that there was a massive drop in Oio or bonefish. This too was based on commercial catch reports. Back in the day people loved eating oio, today not the same. The price of bonefish is not worth the time to commercial fishermen. Therefore the bonefish were not targeted. 

Finally he talks about moi and how there was a missive drop in the population based on commercial catch reports. Again the laws changed, which eliminated that fisheries. 

What is the motive of Dr. Friedlander? Why would he report to legislators false data? 

Dr. Friedlander also stated that he would like to see permanent MPA where no fishing was allowed in order to protect the reefs. In as a matter of fact, he would like to see no fishing on 30% of the coast line. Yet if you listed to the coral reef presentation by NOAA, they didn't even mention fishing as a way to protect the reefs-Not Once! 

The reef is really resilient. Most the the 50% of reef that the scientist talk about has bounced back. I've seeing it with my own eye. Yet the news and legislators are making it seem like an all or nothing approach to protect the reefs. Not targeting the real cause of reef degradation-run off, sewage, and sedimentation. They picked alleged overfishing to fix the reef problem. 

Where did the money for the 25,000 dives surveys come from? If you follow the money you will see that most of the funding comes from organizations that want to ban fishing all together.

Based on the sponsor list presented by Dr. Friedlander is a big contributor to this endeavor.  It is ironic that organizations such as the Nature Conservancy would kill thousands of animals in the forest and in turn kill thousands effectively taking food away from families making ends meet.  Then turn to the ocean to promote and create closures, which effectively deny access to our fishermen eliminating another food source.

These lone politicians that allowed this fiasco to happen should be are responsible for creating laws that will take food away from families and make it harder to survive.   It is already tough enough to survive in Hawaii, why are they making it more difficult.   Must be an election year. 

The conference was put together by Representative Kaniela Ing (Maui), by Representative Cedric Gates (West Oahu), Representative Chris Lee (Waimanalo), and Representative Nicole Lowen (Kona).