Honolulu- Hawai‘i State Senate Judiciary Chair Clayton Hee in a press conference today announced that the Hawaii State Legislature and the Department of Land Natural Resources (DLNR) intend to respond individually to the depletion of near shore fisheries on the Island of Ni‘ihau.
Ni‘ihau is a constant and living reminder of the interdependence of man and nature,” said Senator Hee. “There is no question that unless the government takes dramatic proactive steps to reserve the near shore fisheries for the island population, their survival going forward is in jeopardy.”
Unlike every other populated Hawaiian Island, Ni‘ihau is the only island that does not have any commercial stores where food can be purchased. As such, the near shore reef fishery serves as their predominant source of food.
With the fisheries of Kaua‘i Island becoming more depleted as the population has grown, accompanied by a disregard for taking care of the near shore fisheries, more and more people have been going to Ni‘ihau at greater frequency taking food sources upon which the native population of Ni‘ihau is totally dependent.
To protect these valued resources and resolve ongoing issues caused by the external exploitation of Ni‘ihau, Senator Hee announced that the Senate, in consultation with the Hawaiian Affairs Committee of the House, intends to introduce legislation to establish a “no fishing zone” law for Ni‘ihau Island. In addition, DLNR is currently analyzing a series of administrative rules to strike a balance between the protection of Ni‘ihau residents and offshore opportunities.
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This is a unique situation unlike anywhere else in Hawai‘i and this unique situation calls for unique legislation,” said Senator Hee. “The Hawaiian Caucus of the Senate intends to introduce legislation that will in essence create a no-take zone around the island.”