POSTED: 1:45 a.m. HST, Jun 18, 2013
Hawaii fishermen asked policymakers Monday to address how runoff caused by land development harms reefs, fisheries and the ocean when they consider how to cope with the effects of climate change.
Ocean health can't be looked at in segments, Oahu fisherman Roy Morioka told a committee of the federal body responsible for managing fisheries around Hawaii and other parts of the western Pacific region.
Government officials need to take a comprehensive approach, Morioka told a Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council committee on ecosystem management in Hawaii.
"You need to pull it all together because not one thing is the issue, it's a collective thing that is the issue," Morioka said.
Carl Jellings of Waianae told the committee that fishermen are often told reefs are unhealthy because of overfishing. Fishermen like him are scapegoats, he said.
He argued that what happens on land is one cause of deteriorating reefs. But he says fishermen can't control what happens "up mauka."
"We fight every day so we can continue fishing. It's getting harder and harder because more things are happening in the environment that we're getting blamed for," Jellings said.
The fishermen spoke at the council's Regional Ecosystem Advisory Committee for Hawaii fisheries.
The council heard from scientists about how temperatures are rising globally while, locally, rainfall has been declining. They heard how open-ocean species such as tuna might adapt better as oceans warm because they can move around. Species like coral that stay in place might have a harder time adapting.
Committee members also heard about how rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere — as humans burn more fossil fuels — are making the ocean more acidic.
Brad Warren of the global nonprofit organization Sustainable Fisheries Partnership told the committee that ocean acidification affects how marine life and fisheries stocks grow, and that this introduces greater uncertainty for fishery managers.