Letters | 7-14-14


Fish collecting issue needs cooler heads prevailing

Tina Owens’ “viewpoint” letter from June 26 was encouraging to read.

I am a commercial aquarium fisherman on Oahu. Unlike the situation on the Big Island, the fishery here has never been controversial. We have always gotten along well with folks in the dive and snorkel tour industry, and the aquarium fishery on our island has remained healthy despite more than 60 years of fishing pressure, substantial coastal development and two hurricanes.

With more than 100 miles of shoreline in West Hawaii, it’s often difficult for us to see why people in Kona aren’t able to share the ocean with each other. Surely there must be enough room for people to snorkel, dive and swim without prohibiting fishing along the entire coast. Many people with saltwater aquariums are not fortunate enough to go snorkeling or scuba diving because of age, medical conditions, or because they live far from the sea. Keeping fish as pets allows them to experience what we’re able to see every day, and I can’t imagine that aquarists have less of a right to enjoy the ocean than snorkelers do.

I do not always see eye to eye with Ms. Owens. I am a full-time commercial fisherman, and she is a diehard environmentalist; as such we often have opposing views. However, I do respect the fact that she’s able to sit down at the table with people whom she may not agree with, and work with them to reach a compromise. The world is full of people with different ways of life and different opinions; expecting everybody to agree with one another all of the time is not something that’s likely to happen.

Should my fishing license entitle me to take absolutely any fish I see, from any reef, with no regard for the consequences? Of course not. Likewise, the notion that a viable fishery should be banned outright despite a long history of compromise and (in my opinion) successful regulation is equally unreasonable.

The West Hawaii Fisheries Council has a very good track record of dealing with this issue in a productive way, and it’s disappointing to see individuals from Maui and the mainland attempting to disrupt their progress.

Hopefully cooler heads will prevail.

Matthew Ross

Pearl City, Oahu