Divers, fish­er­men unite to es­tab­lish vol­un­tary marine pro­tec­tion area

The Garden Island - - Front Page - Jes­sica Else

KOLOA — Kauai’s first vol­un­tary marine pro­tected area is now at Koloa Land­ing, mean­ing that divers and fish­er­men have agreed not to re­move aquar­ium fish and eels from the reef.

And while some are hail­ing it as the first step to­ward preser­va­tion of the area, oth­ers say it’s un­nec­es­sary.

“The com­mit­ment is vol­un­tary and there is no gov­ern­ment en­force­ment,” said Scott Ba­con, one of the or­ga­niz­ers of the ef­fort, in a news re­lease to TGI.

He con­tin­ued: “It is for the pro­tec­tion of the reef and the con­tin­ued ed­u­ca­tion of Kauai’s vis­i­tors.”

Now, be­low a sign dub­bing the land­ing a vol­un­tary marine pro­tected area, is an­other sign read­ing:

“The ocean users of Koloa Land­ing have agreed to not take aquar­ium fish and eels from this area. We hope you re­spect this area and leave the aquar­ium fish, small coral reef fish and eels to swim freely for us to watch.”

The des­ig­na­tion comes in the shadow of the state mora­to­rium on com­mer­cial aquar­ium fish­ing per­mits. Recre­ational aquar­ium fish­ing doesn’t re­quire a per­mit, ac­cord­ing to the state Depart­ment of Land and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Di­vi­sion of Aquatic Re­sources.

That’s one of the rea­sons the des­ig­na­tion is use­less in the opin­ion of divers like Ron Tubbs, owner of the Hawaii salt­wa­ter aquar­ium fish com­pany RT Dis­trib­u­tors.

“Seems pro­tected ar­eas — from aquar­ium fish­er­men — do not mat­ter at


Some lo­cal divers say the num­ber of Hawai­ian dragon mo­ray eels seen at Koloa Land­ing has di­min­ished in re­cent years.

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