There Can Be No Conservation Without Community

Tonight I listened to fishermen concerned with the expansion of Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Moment. I attended their rally and meeting and went to hear their concerns. They have real concerns with process and communication, and are deeply concerned that their access will be further limited in the future.

They bring up good points about the military use in this area and why they are being cut out while military expands.

They bring up good points about enforcement and the foreign illegal unregistered ships that will still take from the monument (due to lack of enforcement funding and abilities) while Hawaiian ships are denied access.

I think smaller scale fishermen should be exempt from the closure and should be allowed to continue to fish near the northern weather bouys and into the northern waters as is needed.

It's the industrial longline fishing and purse-seine net fishing which isn't sustainable and what threatens marine stocks. It isn't cultural and it isn't responsible and these are the concerns of marine conservationists and Hawaiian cultural practitioners.

I understand the desire to take out industrial fishing, and I have a well founded science based understanding of the impacts of these non discriminatory types of industrial fishing practices, their bycatch and the ecosystem impacts they leave behind.

I understand that our fisheries, our predators and our marine resources are collapsing and I understand that we have to ensure the perpetuation of these stocks into the future.

Tomorrow I will go to the meeting in support of expansion to even better understand this situation, the concerns and justifications.

I believe we need real and meaningful management of our oceans but it has to engage and involve small scale fishermen, who should be allowed access to these areas, as they continue to fish pono.

The expansion of the monument needs to come with exemptions for Kaua'i and smaller scale local fishermen, of which it sounds like very few actually go this far north, so don't deny them access.

There can be no conservation without community. Without stakeholder engagement this process will never be done from the bottom up and it will therefore never be based in community, respect, and understanding.

We can not close out our local fishermen and expand the Department of Defense occupation of these areas at the same time and expect people to accept this as conservation. If it's conservation it should be conservation, not military testing and millions of approved takes.

Let's start with enforcement on the current illegal fleets and foreign ships that are already poaching in our waters and get serious about protecting these areas into the next generation.

I know that together we can find real meaningful solutions that provide opportunities for local fishermen and conserve and protect this incredibly special area and the amazing resources it holds.