Governor's panel defers decision on gill nets

The Maui News
Friday, August 19, 2005

By LEE IMADA, News Editor

KAHULUI – The era of gill netting is "pau," said one fisherman testifying at the Maui Governor's Advisory Council meeting Thursday night.

Nearly all of the handful testifying on the issue blasted the nets for damaging reefs, reducing fish stocks, capturing seals, turtles and even whales. Many were left wondering how gill netting survived for the last several decades.

But when the panel tried to come up with a recommendation on the issue, the reason became apparent. With council members conferring with fishermen, commercial interests, and experts on reefs and ocean, they were unable to come up with a statement that would eliminate the evils without sweeping away recreational, cultural and subsistence net fishing.

In the end, the panel deferred the item until its next meeting to gather more information.

The other issue on the council's agenda was child abuse and neglect.

A woman came before the members advocating for her granddaughter, who was going to be forced to return to her mother's care but did not want to because of abuse and abandonment.

Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell Sr. stood up and told the panel that "the government had failed that girl."

"As a grandfather, I'm sitting there getting sick to my stomach," he said. "We have the money. We need the heart."

There was not much the panel could do for the woman and the teenager.

Darren Eugenio, an investigator with Child Protective Services who was at the meeting at the request of the panel on another matter, talked to the grandmother about her options, outside the meeting.

The investigator said that in his four years on the job he's seen his caseload increase every year. As one of five investigators on Maui, he has 20 to 30 cases now and gets an average of five to 12 new ones each month.

He blames homelessness, poverty and the crystal methamphetamine problem for the increases. Ninety percent of his cases involve crystal meth, Eugenio said.

His agency's image has been tainted by the Peter Boy Kema case on the Big Island, where a young boy remains missing after reports of child abuse. Only the bad cases make the news, he said, noting that there are "good people" working at his agency. Because of confidentiality, agency workers cannot disclose their success stories where "a child is reunited with a family and the child is made safer."

Most of the meeting, however, focused on the gill netting issue.

Robin Newbold, a marine biologist with the Maui Coral Reef Network, gave a PowerPoint presentation to the board on gill netting. She described the nets as being woven with monofilament line with weights on the bottom that can stretch as far as two miles long.

Gill netting is "the most destructive fishing technique we've got . . . and needs to be stopped," she said.

The nets take everything and "take away fish from our local families," she said. For every 15 fish taken, only one can be used; the rest are "stiff" or dead, she said. They also capture seals, turtles and whales, she said.

The nets, heavy with fish, scrape and damage coral reefs, Newbold added.

The state has rules on the use of gill nets. They can be laid in the water for no more than four hours, but Newbold said that gill netters do not always abide by the rules.

They don't need to because there is no enforcement. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources has a shortage of enforcment officers, and their limited staffing has been diverted to cruise ships due to the threat of terrorism.

A larger force would be necessary to regulate gill netters under current rules. A complete ban would be cleaner to enforce, she said.

Newbold also made the economic argument, noting that most gill netters are not from the islands and provide a limited economic benefit. She noted that in Kihei in 2003, snorkeling/diving operations brought in $8 million to the state while fishing was only $1.7 million.

Most of the gill netting is done on the southern shore of Maui running from about Ukumehame to the Ahihi Kinau area, according to a map she provided.

Panel member Ezekiela Kalua was concerned that a policy banning gill netting needs to preserve current Native Hawaiian practices such as throw netting and "bull pen" netting where a group will surround a school of fish, tossing out alive the fish they do not want or need.

Maxwell also warned the panel about protecting Native Hawaiian cultural practices, lamenting that years ago the harvesting of turtles was banned even for Hawaiians and "now a whole generation has grown up not knowing how to eat turtle meat."

His concern was also for the coral reefs and effects of nutrient rich runoff from hotels and golf courses along the shoreline, which promote algae blooms that are wiping out traditional limu.

"If no more limu, no more little fish to eat the limu," he said. "No more big fish to eat the little fish."

Other testifiers echoed Maxwell's view of deteriorating fish stocks.

Robert Wintner, owner of Snorkel Bob's, said the most frequent question he hears from customers is "where are the fish?"

"We need to ban gill nets," he said.

Darrell Tanaka, a diver fisherman from Haiku, told the panel that "commercial aquarium fishing" was depleting stocks of colorful reef fish such as the yellow tang, "which is like a three dollar bill floating in the water."

Dale Bonar, chairman of the state Natural Area Reserve System Commission, says he's stopped fishing because "I don't want to catch the last fish."

He said the fish found in fishing coolers these days include the hinalea and the tang.

"They were the nice fish on the reef that you never ate," he said.

HOME / LOCAL NEWS

Friday, August 19, 2005 12:25 PM

Governor's panel defers decision on gill nets By LEE IMADA, News Editor

KAHULUI The era of gill netting is "pau," said one fisherman testifying at the Maui Governor's Advisory Council meeting Thursday night.

Nearly all of the handful testifying on the issue blasted the nets for damaging reefs, reducing fish stocks, capturing seals, turtles and even whales. Many were left wondering how gill netting survived for the last several decades.

But when the panel tried to come up with a recommendation on the issue, the reason became apparent. With council members conferring with fishermen, commercial interests, and experts on reefs and ocean, they were unable to come up with a statement that would eliminate the evils without sweeping away recreational, cultural and subsistence net fishing.

In the end, the panel deferred the item until its next meeting to gather more information.

The other issue on the council's agenda was child abuse and neglect.

A woman came before the members advocating for her granddaughter, who was going to be forced to return to her mother's care but did not want to because of abuse and abandonment.

Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell Sr. stood up and told the panel that "the government had failed that girl."

"As a grandfather, I'm sitting there getting sick to my stomach," he said. "We have the money. We need the heart."

There was not much the panel could do for the woman and the teenager.

Darren Eugenio, an investigator with Child Protective Services who was at the meeting at the request of the panel on another matter, talked to the grandmother about her options, outside the meeting.

The investigator said that in his four years on the job he's seen his caseload increase every year. As one of five investigators on Maui, he has 20 to 30 cases now and gets an average of five to 12 new ones each month.

He blames homelessness, poverty and the crystal methamphetamine problem for the increases. Ninety percent of his cases involve crystal meth, Eugenio said.

His agency's image has been tainted by the Peter Boy Kema case on the Big Island, where a young boy remains missing after reports of child abuse. Only the bad cases make the news, he said, noting that there are "good people" working at his agency. Because of confidentiality, agency workers cannot disclose their success stories where "a child is reunited with a family and the child is made safer."

Most of the meeting, however, focused on the gill netting issue.

Robin Newbold, a marine biologist with the Maui Coral Reef Network, gave a PowerPoint presentation to the board on gill netting. She described the nets as being woven with monofilament line with weights on the bottom that can stretch as far as two miles long.

Gill netting is "the most destructive fishing technique we've got . . . and needs to be stopped," she said.

The nets take everything and "take away fish from our local families," she said. For every 15 fish taken, only one can be used; the rest are "stiff" or dead, she said. They also capture seals, turtles and whales, she said.

The nets, heavy with fish, scrape and damage coral reefs, Newbold added.

The state has rules on the use of gill nets. They can be laid in the water for no more than four hours, but Newbold said that gill netters do not always abide by the rules.

They don't need to because there is no enforcement. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources has a shortage of enforcment officers, and their limited staffing has been diverted to cruise ships due to the threat of terrorism.

A larger force would be necessary to regulate gill netters under current rules. A complete ban would be cleaner to enforce, she said.

Newbold also made the economic argument, noting that most gill netters are not from the islands and provide a limited economic benefit. She noted that in Kihei in 2003, snorkeling/diving operations brought in $8 million to the state while fishing was only $1.7 million.

Most of the gill netting is done on the southern shore of Maui running from about Ukumehame to the Ahihi Kinau area, according to a map she provided.

Panel member Ezekiela Kalua was concerned that a policy banning gill netting needs to preserve current Native Hawaiian practices such as throw netting and "bull pen" netting where a group will surround a school of fish, tossing out alive the fish they do not want or need.

Maxwell also warned the panel about protecting Native Hawaiian cultural practices, lamenting that years ago the harvesting of turtles was banned even for Hawaiians and "now a whole generation has grown up not knowing how to eat turtle meat."

His concern was also for the coral reefs and effects of nutrient rich runoff from hotels and golf courses along the shoreline, which promote algae blooms that are wiping out traditional limu.

"If no more limu, no more little fish to eat the limu," he said. "No more big fish to eat the little fish."

Other testifiers echoed Maxwell's view of deteriorating fish stocks.

Robert Wintner, owner of Snorkel Bob's, said the most frequent question he hears from customers is "where are the fish?"

"We need to ban gill nets," he said.

Darrell Tanaka, a diver fisherman from Haiku, told the panel that "commercial aquarium fishing" was depleting stocks of colorful reef fish such as the yellow tang, "which is like a three dollar bill floating in the water."

Dale Bonar, chairman of the state Natural Area Reserve System Commission, says he's stopped fishing because "I don't want to catch the last fish."

He said the fish found in fishing coolers these days include the hinalea and the tang.

"They were the nice fish on the reef that you never ate," he said.

HOME / LOCAL NEWS

Friday, August 19, 2005 12:25 PM

Governor's panel defers decision on gill nets By LEE IMADA, News Editor

KAHULUI The era of gill netting is "pau," said one fisherman testifying at the Maui Governor's Advisory Council meeting Thursday night.

Nearly all of the handful testifying on the issue blasted the nets for damaging reefs, reducing fish stocks, capturing seals, turtles and even whales. Many were left wondering how gill netting survived for the last several decades.

But when the panel tried to come up with a recommendation on the issue, the reason became apparent. With council members conferring with fishermen, commercial interests, and experts on reefs and ocean, they were unable to come up with a statement that would eliminate the evils without sweeping away recreational, cultural and subsistence net fishing.

In the end, the panel deferred the item until its next meeting to gather more information.

The other issue on the council's agenda was child abuse and neglect.

A woman came before the members advocating for her granddaughter, who was going to be forced to return to her mother's care but did not want to because of abuse and abandonment.

Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell Sr. stood up and told the panel that "the government had failed that girl."

"As a grandfather, I'm sitting there getting sick to my stomach," he said. "We have the money. We need the heart."

There was not much the panel could do for the woman and the teenager.

Darren Eugenio, an investigator with Child Protective Services who was at the meeting at the request of the panel on another matter, talked to the grandmother about her options, outside the meeting.

The investigator said that in his four years on the job he's seen his caseload increase every year. As one of five investigators on Maui, he has 20 to 30 cases now and gets an average of five to 12 new ones each month.

He blames homelessness, poverty and the crystal methamphetamine problem for the increases. Ninety percent of his cases involve crystal meth, Eugenio said.

His agency's image has been tainted by the Peter Boy Kema case on the Big Island, where a young boy remains missing after reports of child abuse. Only the bad cases make the news, he said, noting that there are "good people" working at his agency. Because of confidentiality, agency workers cannot disclose their success stories where "a child is reunited with a family and the child is made safer."

Most of the meeting, however, focused on the gill netting issue.

Robin Newbold, a marine biologist with the Maui Coral Reef Network, gave a PowerPoint presentation to the board on gill netting. She described the nets as being woven with monofilament line with weights on the bottom that can stretch as far as two miles long.

Gill netting is "the most destructive fishing technique we've got . . . and needs to be stopped," she said.

The nets take everything and "take away fish from our local families," she said. For every 15 fish taken, only one can be used; the rest are "stiff" or dead, she said. They also capture seals, turtles and whales, she said.

The nets, heavy with fish, scrape and damage coral reefs, Newbold added.

The state has rules on the use of gill nets. They can be laid in the water for no more than four hours, but Newbold said that gill netters do not always abide by the rules.

They don't need to because there is no enforcement. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources has a shortage of enforcment officers, and their limited staffing has been diverted to cruise ships due to the threat of terrorism.

A larger force would be necessary to regulate gill netters under current rules. A complete ban would be cleaner to enforce, she said.

Newbold also made the economic argument, noting that most gill netters are not from the islands and provide a limited economic benefit. She noted that in Kihei in 2003, snorkeling/diving operations brought in $8 million to the state while fishing was only $1.7 million.

Most of the gill netting is done on the southern shore of Maui running from about Ukumehame to the Ahihi Kinau area, according to a map she provided.

Panel member Ezekiela Kalua was concerned that a policy banning gill netting needs to preserve current Native Hawaiian practices such as throw netting and "bull pen" netting where a group will surround a school of fish, tossing out alive the fish they do not want or need.

Maxwell also warned the panel about protecting Native Hawaiian cultural practices, lamenting that years ago the harvesting of turtles was banned even for Hawaiians and "now a whole generation has grown up not knowing how to eat turtle meat."

His concern was also for the coral reefs and effects of nutrient rich runoff from hotels and golf courses along the shoreline, which promote algae blooms that are wiping out traditional limu.

"If no more limu, no more little fish to eat the limu," he said. "No more big fish to eat the little fish."

Other testifiers echoed Maxwell's view of deteriorating fish stocks.

Robert Wintner, owner of Snorkel Bob's, said the most frequent question he hears from customers is "where are the fish?"

"We need to ban gill nets," he said.

Darrell Tanaka, a diver fisherman from Haiku, told the panel that "commercial aquarium fishing" was depleting stocks of colorful reef fish such as the yellow tang, "which is like a three dollar bill floating in the water."

Dale Bonar, chairman of the state Natural Area Reserve System Commission, says he's stopped fishing because "I don't want to catch the last fish."

He said the fish found in fishing coolers these days include the hinalea and the tang.

"They were the nice fish on the reef that you never ate," he said.


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