Keep Some... Let Some Go!
Now don't get me wrong. I love eating fish and just about any kind of seafood be it raw, grilled, poached, steamed, baked... you name it. So it seems somewhat ironic that I'd feel the need to include a conservation page in this site. But my reasons for doing so are in a way selfish, selfish for all of us who enjoy the bounty of the ocean.
The popularity of Hawaii's aquatic resources... fish, certain types of seaweed, and crustacea such as crabs and lobsters presents a demand which if not kept in check could result in the depletion of those very resources.
Whereas some twenty years ago, I would have been happy to bring home anything and everything I caught, my sentiment has shifted to a concern of how long our fish populations can be maintained with the growing number of people fishing Hawaii's waters by pole, spear, nets, and traps.
Fortunately, a number of enthusiasts in different venues of fishing, diving, and aquaculture have initiated steps that could positively bring about the necessary conservation activities while still allowing the ocean pastimes which have been ingrained in our culture from the days of the native Hawaiians.
Ollie Owens displays his trophy before
releasing it to fight another day!
Catch & Release
While fish is a popular staple for virtually every ethnic group comprising Hawaii's population, a small but growing number of fishermen are employing a catch-and-release mentality with some if not all of their catch.
Greater awareness of state-imposed size and bag limits seems to be existent today, but the sheer numbers of people fishing and the improved technology has caused an increased level of depletion in the local fish stock. And while we're an island community brought up on the catching and consumption of fish and other ocean resources, our careful selection and voluntary limiting of what we take will help to insure the resource is available to our future generations.
Catch and release is very much the trend in Hawaii freshwater fishing and might be something we can instill on today's young people!
Kyle Narimasu displays his tagged Bluefin Trevally (Omilu)
and tag inserter before releasing the fish.
Tag & Release
Here's a great version of catch-and-release which not only helps to maintain the fish populations but also helps us to understand the life and behavior of certain fish. Among the most sophisticated are the billfish tagging employed by many sportfishing crews both privately and in tournaments as well.
The Hawaii Department of Aquatic Resources also has an ulua tagging project in which a good number of local fishermen participate. As a participant in the program, I get a real kick e-mailing the data of my releases to the project office, too!
The tagging kit is very compact and something easy to include when shore fishing or kayak fishing where we're very likely to bring up some papio or, hopefully, ulua! In addition to maintaining the fishery, the tag & release program provides invaluable information on the fishes' migratory patterns, growth rates, and behavioral traits have and continue to be acquired.
In January of 2006, a papio tagged on Oahu was later caught on the Big Island of Hawaii... some 210 miles away! Click here for the complete story of this amazing papio and other miles-logging fish!
Within the last two decades, a slow but increasing movement has been underway in a number of aquaculture programs, the most exciting of them to fishermen being the raising and stocking of prized fish such as opakapaka and moi. These fish are prized for their food value and it certainly makes sense to assist in their proliferation any way we can.
As visitors and residents, all of us can help by deliberately reducing the amount of our catch and supporting those businesses that encourage release or cultivation-oriented activities.