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Responsible Fishing Ethics in Hawaii
The sun is getting warmer, the rain is less frequent, and south swells larger. And you know that means summertime is right around the corner! Many of us are having a hard time focusing in the classroom and at work because we are mentally planning for summer fishing trips; imagining the tension on our poles and spears and envisioning our dream fish safely stowed away on ice in our cooler. We're also gearing up for all those summer fishing tournaments.
The summer tournament streak has already begun. I would like to say mahalo to the organizers of the tournaments, which I have already attended, for allowing me to be part of your event. Likewise, I look forward to supporting more tournaments as the summer progresses.
These traditional events are great for a number of reasons. They provide an inexpensive source of quality time with family and friends near Hawai'i's beautiful coastlines in addition to being a nice mix of exciting entertainment and relaxing enjoyment. Furthermore, tournaments are a great opportunity for sharing and learning about our fishery resources and for shaping our younger generation's fishing ethic.
Whether you are a fisher, tournament organizer or an employee of a fishing-related business or organization, promoting a responsible fishing ethic in Hawaii is everyone's kuleana. Our fisheries are a common resource shared by all and the actions of one individual can have a positive or negative impact on anyone who fishes Hawai'i's waters.
Many tournaments have a long tradition of promoting responsible fishing ethics. Some require fish caught to be a few inches longer than the state required legal minimum size. Others have abandoned "total catch" categories. Also, "Barbless" hook categories are becoming common place at many tournaments and are consistently producing impressive results. Mahalo to all of you who are initiating these practices and being leaders in promoting ethical fishing.
Like anything, responsible fishing practices can still be improved. Tournament organizers spend time and money to run these events and do a great job of providing a safe enjoyable fishing environment for the community; however encouraging current and future fishers to practice responsible fishing is also critical. This is especially important at keiki tournaments. If children are taught at an early age to fish responsibly and ethically, there is a good chance they will carry that knowledge with them as they grow and are likely to transfer it the next generation.
If you are not already doing so, the following are a few ways you can ensure your tournament or other fishing activities are practicing responsible fishing ethics:
- make sure your tournament follows and enforces the state fishing regulations;
- provide information and material that encourages compliance (copies of regulations and measuring devices);
- encourage participants to use barbless circle hooks;
- during tournament registration discuss what it means to be an ethical fisher and make sure all participants understand the need to respect the minimum sizes, closed seasons and bag limits;
- require parents, relatives or guardians to fish with their children to ensure rules are respected.
In Hawai'i fishing is a culturally important way of life and pastime. As our islands' populations increase, more of us are sharing common resources so more than ever, it is vital we use these resources in an ethically responsible manner. Neglecting this responsibility not only runs the risk of damaging our common resources for present and future generations but also decreases opportunities to enjoy this wonderful past time.
If you would like some assistance in promoting ethical fishing at your tournament please contact:
NOAA Fisheries Service Pacific Islands Regional Office