Pono Fishing Practices
Some observations and suggestions.
Over the years, through personal observations and input from countless others, I've collected some basic information to expand on. Following are some ideas that may support your personal activities but please use it as a base line. Every place is different and has it's own cycles and needs.
~Community based management is half of the overall picture. Community based harvesting is the other. If you are not part of the community that actively cares for a particular place, don't fish there. It is not pono to hop from one location to another taking what you can without contributing to that place.
~Leave the breeders. Research has shown that some species of fish (if not all) produce a larger quantity of eggs, at a much higher quality, as they grow. If we apply this information, bigger fish should be left behind to breed. These fish produce much more and much better young than smaller fish. If you know your fish and have been paying attention, you can gauge what sizes are appropriate to harvest for each species. This idea goes against the legal minimum size limit. Why not have a maximum size limit?
~Know when fish are reproducing and leave them. Fish reproduce at different times throughout the year depending on the species and their maturity. These cycles also differ from one location to another. For instance, kole spawning at Kalaemanō are not spawning at the same time in Kawaihae. These 2 locations are both on the leeward coast of Hawai'i Island, no more than 20 miles apart from each other.
~Don't only eat your favorite fish. Try others. Rest species throughout the year. There are many species of fish which are considered "rubbish" fish that are edible and, depending on how its' prepared, very 'ono. Try them all.
~Our kūpuna utilized fishponds to suppliment their fish consumption. They recognized the need to rest or put kapu on certain species during parts of a year or for years at a time to ensure the continuance of that species. Our "wild" reef and shoreline fish stocks are not meant to be harvested in large quantities and sold commercially year round. Leave 'a'ama, 'opihi, kole, pākukui, aholehole, etc. for table consumption.
~UHU is a favorite fish but has a unique reproductive process. In their juvenile stage, uhu are generally hermaphroditic or possessing both male and female organs. As they move into the next stage, the initial stage, they generally become female. The terminal stage, adult uhu, are most often male that started as an initial female or juvenile hermaphrodite. During spawning season, uhu form harems with one male and several females. If you remove the male, or blue uhu, it will disrupt the spawning cycle because another initial female or juvenile hermaphrodite will have to make the change to terminal male, a process long enough to halt reproduction in that harem for the year.
~Rotate your harvesting locations and allow it to replentish itself. If your place has 4 reef systems, leave 1 to rest for a time and rotate the other 3. Don't only harvest from your inshore areas. You can rotate with deep sea areas as well.
~Fish need food too. Our kūpuna would feed ko'a or fish houses and there is no reason we can't do the same. Suppliment healthy foods such as 'uala, kalo, pumkin, etc. in ko'a you keep. Also leaving non-invasive limu to grow will assist in keeping fish stocks healthy.