Hawai‘i’s fisheries are indispensable to the State’s environment, economy, food security, and culture. Hawai‘i’s fisheries require well-informed management with an adequate capacity to ensure that the resources exist for future generations. The Hawai‘i State Legislature has periodically examined what a non-commercial marine fishing license may be able to offer to address these needs. Hawai‘i remains, however, the only coastal U.S. state without a mandatory non-commercial marine fishing registry, permit, or license (“RPL”) system, because these previous attempts to enact an RPL system have been unsuccessful.
To better understand the issues relevant to an RPL system, Conservation International Hawai‘i (CI Hawai‘i) and the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (“Council”) invited individuals from different fishing organizations and interest groups to serve as members of a Study Group to undertake a fresh examination of the RPL system issues. These individuals have diverse knowledge and experience and worked together over much of 2016 to gather and analyze information to better understand the implications of any prospective RPL system.
The Study Group focused on evaluating any potential RPL system based on its ability to meet three primary objectives: (1) provide additional and more robust data to support fishery management; (2) foster two-way dialogue between fishers and managers by identifying the universe of non-commercial fishers in Hawai‘i and developing approved communication pathways; and (3) create a source of independent, continuous funding to support effective fisheries management. The Study Group examined several RPL system options, including those enacted by other states, that might meet the above-stated objectives and sought to analyze the respective advantages and disadvantages of each. The group also reviewed the results of legal and financial analyses of some or all of these RPL system options, interviewed fisheries managers in other coastal states, and focused outreach efforts on certain unique stakeholders and rights-holders.
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