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ผู้เขียน หัวข้อ: DLNR chief defends fishery management  (อ่าน 2685 ครั้ง)
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« เมื่อ: กุมภาพันธ์ 14, 2010, 01:38:32 PM »

DLNR chief defends fishery management

by Carolyn Lucas
West Hawaii Today
clucas@westhawaiitoday.com
Friday, February 12, 2010 6:51 AM HST

The top administrator of the Department of Land and Natural Resources says the marine aquarium fishery is "not unmanaged."

DLNR Chairwoman Laura Thielen said the state agency is monitoring what tropical fish collectors and dealers are reporting monthly. It also wants to get a measure passed that would allow Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement officers to inspect closed containers for prohibited fish. Now DOCARE officers can only inspect closed containers if they have probable cause to believe containers contain illegally harvested fish.

But some residents are unconvinced and point to last month's dumping of 610 fish in a trash bin at Honokohau Small Boat Harbor as evidence. As of press time Thursday, DLNR officials in Honolulu did not provide further details about the fish dump or confirm if the agency was investigating it.

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Critics also criticized DLNR for not doing anything about fraudulent filing of reports by tropical fish collectors, as well as DOCARE being unresponsive to reports of poaching in protected areas and other violations. Thielen said DOCARE has 120 officers statewide, of which 22 officers are on the Big Island. Their responsibilities include policing more than 750 miles of coastline, 23,000 acres of inland surface water, 3 million acres of state ocean waters, 410,000 acres of coral reef around the main Hawaiian Islands, 2 million acres of conservation land and 1.2 million acres of state-owned lands.

Thielen claimed DOCARE does random boat patrols along the West Hawaii coastline, but didn't know how often or where. She said staff from the Division of Aquatic Resources, as well as the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, also have a presence in the area. Asked if scientists would one day be deputized, she responded DLNR was "stepping up the communication" between its divisions to better protect the island's resources. It was also "beefing up the training" for Makai Watch members in regards to gathering information about illegal activities. She said DLNR was looking forward to when Mark Young, now-chief of enforcement for the 14th Coast Guard District, retires and joins DOCARE to shares his enforcement recommendations.

Asked about a total ban of aquarium collectors, she mentioned the value of Act 306, which strives to manage fishery activities, enhance near-shore resources and reduce conflict. She also mentioned the success of the West Hawaii Fisheries Council, which recently proposed ways to improve management of the fishery. Recommendations include allowing flexibility in closing areas in response to public concerns while opening up a similarly sized space to maintain the mandated proportion of reserves; establishing a Limited Entry Aquarium Program; and adopting a list of 25 species that aquarium collectors can harvest. Thielen said the DLNR and the Office of the Attorney General are reviewing these proposals to determine how enforceable the rules are. She added public hearings may occur this year.

"The marine aquarium fishery in the State of Hawaii is one of the most economically valuable commercial inshore fisheries with fiscal year 2009 reported landing of 557,673 specimens and a total value of $1.08 million," according to the January 2010 Report on the Findings and Recommendations of Effectiveness of the West Hawaii Regional Management Area. "Presently, 75 percent of fish caught in the state and 67 percent of the total aquarium catch value comes from the Big Island and almost exclusively from West Hawaii."

DAR Administrator Dan Polhemus said the present level of take on aquarium fish is sustainable. He mentioned an overall increase in abundance of the top 20 aquarium species 10 years after the closure of Fish Replenishment Areas, a network of nine protected areas comprising 35 percent of the West Hawaii coastline. However, a report on the West Hawaii Regional Management Area alludes to pressure being put on the open areas. It states the Fisheries Council has proposed a limited entry program to "prevent the continued unbridled growth of the aquarium fishery." The number of West Hawaii aquarium permits have increased 19 percent from 48 in 2000 to 57 in 2009. Collectors reportedly took 349,250 fish last year, which was nearly 70,000 more fish more than in 2000.

Polhemus said DLNR found that only two-thirds of the state's 3,200 licensed commercial marine fishers, which includes tropical fish collectors, were complying with the catch report requirements each year. Tropical fish collectors must have a commercial marine license and an aquarium fish permit. DLNR did not provide the total number of West Hawaii tropical fish collectors and dealers.

Six months ago, DLNR took steps to get fishers to file the required reports or face a penalty under its Civil Resource Violation System. Those with late or incomplete reports faced fines and could have their licenses suspended or revoked, depending on the number of delinquencies. The first month DLNR issued roughly 1,200 fines statewide. It's now issuing about 400 fines. There have only been two contested hearings, Thielen said.

"This system allowed violators to pay a fine to resolve a case with DLNR without the stress of having to appear in court or before the Land Board," she said. "It also sent a strong message that the state is enforcing laws to protect our natural and cultural resources."

Asked specifically about incentives for people to report accurately what they are catching, Polhemus said statisticians are constantly cross checking the 3,000 to 4,000 reports submitted monthly. The data is also used extensively by DAR and federal fisheries management agencies to monitor and assess the health of marine resources.

http://www.westhawaiitoday.com/articles/2010/02/12/local/local02.txt
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