House District 13

BILL PROHIBITS SALE OF GOVERNMENT-OWNED FISH PONDS, PROMOTES TRADITIONAL FISHING PRACTICES

In News Release on April 23, 2010 at 9:58 pm

HONOLULU—The Legislative Conference Committee voted to move forward House Bill 1665, which would prohibit the sale of public, governmentally-owned Hawaiian fishponds.  The bill promotes a revival of Hawaiian fishing practices for cultural and commercial gain.  It stipulates that all revenue from fishpond related activity will be deposited into a special land and development fund for the purpose of further revitalizing traditional fishing practices and education.

Although the bill, which was introduced by Representative Faye Hanohano (D-4th) during the 2009 session, will prohibit the sale of fishponds, it does allow for leasing such properties provided a community hearing is conducted beforehand and the lessee operates the fishpond in an ecologically sound manner.  The Native Hawaiian Caucus, which is composed of Native Hawaiian members of both the House and Senate, re-introduced the bill this session as part of its legislative package.

Representative Mele Carroll (D-13th), who chairs the Native Hawaiian Caucus, says, “I believe this bill addresses cultural, economic, and ecological concerns.  It does provide for commercial activity, but only if these structures are not unduly tampered with and the environment is not harmed.”

Representative Mele Carroll with Tony Costa of Hawaii Near-Shore Fishermen and Chris Cramer of Moanalua Fishpond Heritage Center

The issue of environmental damage is a significant one; in the past, fish ponds were often filled in to provide property for housing units.  As a result, there are only a few fishponds remaining on O`ahu and neighbor island alike, though concerned citizens and organizations have worked to restore fishponds across the state.

“Hawaiians established a number of laws regarding conservation,” says Representative Mele Carroll, “As our state continues to go green, we should examine the ways our ancestors lived, sustainably, without the technology we have come to rely on.  Fish ponds are very different from the fish farming that is practiced in Hawaiian waters today, and I believe that re-implementing this system will uplift our state’s economy and instill our children with a sense of responsibility for our oceans.

The State House of Representatives will vote on House Bill 1665 on April 27.

Representative Faye Hanohano says, “`O kēia pila e mālama kō kākou kūlana na`auao a me kō kākou mo`olelo.  Mahalo ke akua no kona pōmaika`i ma kēia pila pono.  E holo mua me ka `oiai`o.”

“This bill preserves our culture and history.  We thank God for his blessing upon this righteous bill.  We move forward with truth.”

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