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Monday, January 12, 2009
Fish fight: DLNR to hold public meetings on uhu, weke, and ulua
By Andrew Walden @ 12:22 PM :: 4016 Views

HONOLULU – The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) invites the public to participate in informational meetings to discuss possible regulations for certain marine fish species. 
The public discussion will center on using minimum size rules to protect harvested resource fish that may be at risk of being over harvested, and will focus on at least three main fish families that the DLNR feels may be in need of updated regulations.  They are: Parrotfish (uhu), Goatfish (weke), and Jacks (ulua/papio).  The Division of Aquatic Resources has not yet drafted rule changes.
In addition to the meetings announced last week (January 9), a Hilo and Kona meeting have been added. The schedule of meetings is:
Maui -- January 14 (Wednesday), from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Maui Waena Elementary School cafeteria, 795 Onehe‘e Avenue in Kahului.
Kona – January 15 (Thursday), from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the monthly meeting of the West Hawai‘i Fisheries Council, at the Honokohau Big Game Fishing Club, Honokohau Small Boat Harbor, 74-380 Kealakehe Parkway, Kailua-Kona.
Hilo – January 27 (Tuesday) from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the County of Hawai‘i Aupuni conference room at 101 Pauahi St.
Kaua‘i -- January 30 (Friday), from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Kaua‘i Community College, Electronics Technology building, room 114.
“We are holding these public information meetings to listen to concerns and suggestions from the public regarding fishing and protection of these three species,” said Laura H. Thielen, DLNR Chairperson. “The input we receive from the public will help the Division of Aquatic Resources design rules that will support the ongoing conservation of our marine resources while balancing the needs of recreational, subsistence and commercial fishers.”
Recreational and subsistence fishers have developed a preference for the parrotfish family (also known as uhu), with many spearfishers considering them prized catches. 
Commercial harvesting of uhu has also increased, with commercial fishers now supplying uhu to various markets throughout the state.  Recent changes in uhu commercial harvesting using specialized and highly effective net- and trap-based fisheries operating in deeper water can remove large amounts of uhu.
These trends have resulted in increased concern over uhu stocks.
Of particular concern is the role of these fish in helping to maintain healthy coral reefs.  Parrotfish, the largest grazing fishes on Hawai‘i’s reefs, play a critical role in controlling seaweed growth and thereby help to maintain healthy coral reef ecosystems. 
Scientific information from commercial fisheries and fish survey data for goatfishes (moano kali and weke nono) show a decline in catch rate over time that correlates with an observed decrease in goatfish abundance.
Ulua/papio is another very important species caught by recreational fishers.
The Division of Aquatic Resources plans to hold similar meetings on other islands, and those dates and locations will be announced at a later time.
For more information contact DAR offices at: Maui (808) 243-5294; Hawai‘i (808) 974-6201, Kaua‘i (808) 274-3344; Honolulu (808) 587-0100; Moloka‘i/Lana‘i (808) 567-3778.

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