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CBSFA Follows ‘Ike Kupuna

Opinion by Keani Rawlins-Fernandez

The highly anticipated Board of Land and Natural Resources public hearing on the Mo‘omomi CBSFA will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 19 at 5:30pm. Due to COVID-19, the hearing will be livestreamed. Testimony may be provided online or in-person with advanced registration.

What is a CBSFA? A Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area designation is a type of fishing management area that encourages continued subsistence, and in Mo‘omomi’s case, would prohibit commercial fishing, except for trolling, within its boundaries. CBSFAs are not marine sanctuaries. It would not create “no-take zones,” like Hanauma Bay.

The Mo‘omomi CBSFA would not limit or prohibit anyone’s right to gather and feed their families: “§13-60.9-1(3) Recognize and protect customary and traditional native Hawaiian fishing practices that are exercised for subsistence, cultural, and religious purposes in the area. §13-60.9-4 Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as abridging traditional and customary native Hawaiian rights.”

Why is this necessary? Our legacy is Molokai ‘Aina Momona, but over the years, our resources have been overtaxed. Advanced fishing and diving equipment has made it easier and faster to gather high quantities of resources. After 25 years of data collection, Hui Malama o Mo‘omomi documented the decline of marine life overall, but the population of certain species have diminished more than others. The proposed daily bag limits on these vulnerable species include: 20 kole, two kumu, two uhu paukaluka/ahuʻula, and two lobsters, with a complete rest on uhu uliuli. When the population of these species recover, the bag limit could be lifted. This style of adaptive management is also part of our tradition to promote abundance.

The proposal itself originated from Ho‘olehua homesteaders to ensure our future mo‘opuna, seven generations from now, would have the resources needed to subsist, as our kupuna did. In addition to safeguarding food for future generations, this issue is also about the survival and perpetuation of ‘ike kupuna, traditional and customary knowledge and practices. We have already witnessed limu ‘ele‘ele disappearing. How can kupuna teach the next generations to identify and gather limu ‘ele‘ele properly without it?

Misconceptions have made this legislation extremely challenging to pass. One common misconception has been that this designation would involve granting additional enforcement jurisdiction for DLNR. However, DLNR already maintains jurisdiction from the high tide watermark and into the nearshore waters around all islands, so this claim in not correct. In reality, the CBSFA would grant the community more authority than it currently possesses by offering to co-manage. Ultimately, those who gather the way our kupuna taught us, would not be impacted at all if this becomes law.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at Keani.Rawlins@MauiCounty.us.

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