Kuaʻāina Ulu ʻAuamo

Haena CBSFA_1

Prior to the arrival of Captain Cook, Hawaiʻi’s abundant fisheries sustained a large population – by one estimate nearly 1 million people – over many centuries in Hawaiʻi, the most isolated archipelago on the planet. Hawaiʻi has suffered a 75% to 80% decline in fisheries in just the last century. Over 80% of food in Hawaiʻi is today imported on a barge.  In response to these loses, rural fishing communities around Hawaiʻi have for over 20 years advocated for a marine management designation known as “community-based subsistence fishing areas,” or CBSFAs. Locally-proposed, state-designated areas, CBSFA protections stem from the time-tested, place-based indigenous fishing and stewardship traditions. CBSFAs protect and perpetuate Native Hawaiian traditions which include both the wise taking of fish AND caretaking of fish and fishing areas.

Since 2012, statewide non-profit Kuaʻāina Ulu ʻAuamo (KUA) has collaborated with the Hui Makaʻāinana o Makana, a community-based group made up of the traditional and lineal descendants of Hāʻena, Kauaʻi, on coalition building in support of CBSFAs. Through this effort, KUA has helped bring together a number of other rural fishing communities throughout the state considering or pursuing a CBSFA for their fishing grounds. In October 1-2, 2014, KUA facilitated an advocacy workshop in Hāʻena with leaders from Hāʻena and 8 other rural fishing communities to share, learn and dialogue on effective advocacy strategies. On October 3, 2014, these rural leaders and fishing families joined with at least 200 supporters testifying at a state hearing expressed an unprecedented outpouring of support for effective CBSFA implementation. Shortly after, many of the same community leaders flew to the capitol city of Honolulu for the decision-making hearing, this time providing over four hours of emotional testimony in support. The Board of Land and Natural Resources voted unanimously to approve – for the first time ever – community-based rules for a CBSFA. The landmark rules headed to the governor for signature. After 20 years, we were finally on our way. Or so we thought. Within weeks of the October hearing, the results of the gubernatorial elections were in and an administration supportive of CBSFAs left office. The rules remain unsigned.

The sentiment of the new administration remains unknown and there is no official word to date about their intentions. So, the story continues. This project builds upon that October experience and 7 years of collaborative work by the Hui and KUA to see a CBSFA in Hawaiʻi truly realized. In addition, this effort has helped to catalyze increased collaboration and support of KUA and community efforts with national non-profit partners The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International whom showed up to support, testify and contribute to the development of outreach efforts and logistics.

This project provides critical and timely funds for fishers and fishing families around the islands to build their capacity for advocacy and to make their voices heard – towards the vision of renewed abundance for Hawaiʻi’s fisheries and the perpetuation of Hawaiʻi’s indigenous fishing traditions.

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