Pacific Fisheries Coalition




  pacific fisheries coalition Government-Community Relations


So far we have identified some specific positive examples of government-community fishery interactions in Hawai`i. It is difficult to cite specific examples of poor relationships between government and community without prejudicing the effectiveness of future work, nonetheless there are many examples of poor relationships throughout the State, or even an entire lack of interaction. While most of these can be attributed to government indifference, many also result from what might uncharitably be termed an "exploitative attitude" by leaders in certain community.

To consider the government side first, some fisheries officers may appear, to the fishing community, to be fixed to their desks, or the entire department may be so concerned with the development of aqua culture or tuna fisheries that they have little to do with the day to day activities of the local fishing community except when problems are brought to their attention through the political process. Sometimes government involvement standards are set at such a level that only the academically-minded can be recruited to the fisheries service. While the ability to write reports and analyze statistics is essential, the most effective departments seem to be those that contain a good percentage of officers who actually go out fishing regularly themselves, or who are recruited from the fishing community. In many ways, the fact that State and Federal management bodies have been under pressure from Government central planning offices to concentrate their efforts on the development of commercial fisheries, means that most coastal communities have not been interfered with beyond their capacity to maintain their traditional decision-making ability. Analysis personnel shows that Government fisheries development efforts concentrate mainly on species and methods which are separate from domestic food-fisheries, such as aqua culture, tuna and deep water snapper fisheries, or export invertebrate fisheries. There have been few efforts to develop artisan fisheries by some State agencies.

So far, these development projects have had little direct impact on the mechanisms of community and artisan fisheries management themselves, but since around 1994 management and "Sustainability" have become issues that have to be addressed in almost all development projects. Hopefully this new emphasis on management will not lead to excessive derangement in existing community fisheries systems but will concentrate on helping the Division of Aquatic Resources to be more supportive.

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