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Sunday, May 14, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Sunday, May 14, 2023

Uhu are parrot fish slated for bag limits and size limits for commercial and home fishing. Public meetings will be announced
 for input on new rules proposed by the state Division of Aquatic Resources for taking these, other fish and Kona crab.

Photo from 2016 Environment Hawai'i story on likely overfishing of uhu. See https://www.environment-hawaii.org/?p=7868

BAG LIMITS ON UHU AND KALA, and minimum sizes for fish as small as manini will go to public meetings around the state. The state Department of Land & Natural Resources made the decision for more meetings after hearing pro and con testimony on Friday concerning approvals sought by its Division of Aquatic Resources for its proposed new Rules Regulating the Taking and Selling of Certain Marine Resources.
    Under the proposed regulations, non-commercial fishermen would be allowed to take a maximum of two uhu - parrot fish and two kala -bluespine unicorn fish per day. 
    Whether non-commercial or commercial, fishing for all uhu would be off limits when the fish spawn, February through May. Fishing for the more threatened uhu 'ele'ele (Terminal-phase Redlip Parrotfish) and uhu uliuli (Terminal-phase Spectacled Parrotfish) would be off limits to everyone all the time.
    Minimum size for uhu pālukaluka (Non-terminal-phase Redlip Parrotfish) and uhu ‘ahu‘ula (Non-terminal-phase Spectacled Parrotfish) would increase from 12 to 14 inches. A minimum size of 10 inches would be set for all other uhu.
    For uhu, commercial fishers would be limited to catching 30 per day, the legal size between 14 inches and 20 inches. Commercial fishers would pay $100 a year for a permit and show previous year catch and sales of at least 340 pounds of uhu. Annual catch limit would be 34,000 lbs. for the statewide uhu commercial fishery. 
Kala, the unicorn fish, is subject to proposed bag and size
 limitations for fishing and home use. Photo from NOAA
    For kala, non-commercial fishers would be limited to two per day.
     Minimum size would be 14 inches whether for home or commercial. Commercial fishers would be limited to 50 kala per day. The annual catch limit would be 10,000 lbs for the statewide kala commercial fishery. Each fisher would be required to pay $100 per annual permit and prove catch and sales of at least 100 lbs. in the previous year.
    Proposed amendments also include:
    Increasing the minimum size for manini (Convict Tang) from five inches to six inches;
    Establishing a minimum size of five inches for kole (Goldring Surgeonfish);
    Allowing the take of female pāpa‘i kualoa (Kona crab) without eggs;
    Extending the current closed season (May-August) for pāpa‘i kualoa (Kona crab) to May-September;
    Making other non-substantive housekeeping amendments for clarity and consistency with other chapters including adding new definitions, amending old definitions, and other stylistic and grammatical corrections throughout the chapter.    
    Hawai'i Tribune Herald reported on the BLNR meeting and described proposed rules as "a wide range of amendments to the state’s fishing rules that broadly reduce fishers’ ability to legally take certain threatened fish species, particularly the uhu and kala..." Reporter Michael Brestovansky wrote, "Dozens of fishermen and environmentalists on Friday spoke out against proposed new fishing regulations by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources."
    He wrote that the most pushback came from proposed rules concerning kole, the goldring surgeonfish.
For the Fishes advocates opposed exemption for licensed aquarium collectors
from minimum size restrictions imposed on the public in proposed rules.
Photo from For the Fishes

The proposal would set minimum catchable length at five inches. However, it would exempt aquarium fishers with valid state aquarium fishing permits from the minimum size rule. 
    Though new aquarium fishing permits have not been issued for years, the advocacy group For the Fishes presented testimony saying that if allowed to resume, aquarium fishers "would certainly continue their decades-long degradation of this critically important natural resource....." and "Telling food fishers that it is important to let kole reach maturity before taking them, but then letting the commercial aquarium pet trade take large numbers of juvenile kole … is nonsensical, poor management and counterproductive to DAR messaging that they believe in and support pono fishing practices and that herbivores need immediate protections.”
    Dozens of form letters were submitted "largely blaming the aquarium fishing industry for leaving the state’s reefs in their current state," reported Hawai'i Tribune Herald. After the testimony, BLNR proposed to omit the proposed exemption from size limits for the aquarium industry.
    Brestovansky also reported Division of Aquatics Resources chief Brian Neilson telling Board of Land & Natural Resources that the proposed rules "are critical to maintaining the state’s marine ecosystems and are under increasing pressure from overfishing and environmental degradation."

    The article also reported David Sakoda, DAR fisheries program manager, saying most fishers would remain unaffected by the proposed rules, contending that fewer than half of fishing trips exceed limits in the proposed rules.  See more at hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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Pāhala Senior Center Garden where Fely Villegas grows food with the help of students and other seniors. She is the 2023
Outstanding Older American Woman for Hawai'i County. 

FELICIDAD VILLEGAS IS OUTSTANDING OLDER AMERICAN WOMAN for Hawai'i County for 2023. The 76-year old Pāhala resident, called Fely, was honored Friday at Waikoloa and will meet the mayor and County Council this week, before more receiving more recognition during a trip to Honolulu.
Fely Villegas, community volunteer and leader of Pāhala Senior
Garden, accepts the help of  
Youth Challenge cadets and Kaʻū High
School's Entrepreneurship Program. 
Photo by Jennifer Makuakane
    The bio from nomination papers, submitted by Pāhala Nutrition  Program and Senior Club, notes that Villegas joined the organization back in 2009. "She continues to be an integral part of our program. In addition to her daily duties at the Nutrition Center, she continues to spend many hours at the Pāhala  Senior Garden, helping to grow fresh produce for our local senior citizens. She is a willing volunteer, no matter what the task, and brings a lot of enthusiasm to her work."
    For years, Villegas has helped to bring seniors to the Center in the morning and back home after lunch. She assists with lunch pick-up and also helps with transportation for medical, shopping and recreation.
    The bio says, "In addition, she often helps those who are in need by informally providing rides in her own personal vehicle. In a small rural area such as ours, this sort of informal transportation assistance can be key to maintaining the wellness of our community members.
         "Fely has served as our Nutrition Site President/Representative for over seven years now, taking on all of the responsibilities required by that role, particularly serving as back-up for the Hawai'i County 
Retired Volcano House baker Fely Villegas
assisted Kaʻū High student and grandson 
Kelson Gallano with cookies for Pāhala
Hub distribution of local made food
 during the pandemic.  
Photo by Julia Neal
Nutrition Program site manager. She helps with the morning set-up and clean-up, and generally keeps things running smoothly on a daily basis. She is the kind of volunteer that makes life easier for everyone around her, noticing when something needs to be done and just doing it."
    Villegas is on the Board for Pāhala Senior Club, serving as Secretary from 2010 to 2019 and is now Treasurer. The bio describes her as "a very creative person" with special fondness for singing and playing 'ukulele, performing with Pāhala Senior Center music group. She also enjoys painting and sewing. 
    She volunteers at her Holy Rosary Church and with making New Years mochi for Pāhala Hongwanji. She can also be seen volunteering for the Entrepreneurship Program at Kaʻū High School. During Covid, she assisted with Pāhala Food Hub, making food items with the help of students to be included in the bags of food distributed throughout the community.
    The bio says, "Fely Villegas is high energy and always willing to share a laugh and a helping hand. Generous with her time and talents, her fun-loving, helpful nature makes her outstanding in the eyes of her friends and peers..."
    See more on other Older American nominees and winners in upcoming Kaʻū News Briefs.

HAWAI'I POLICE DEPARTMENT is looking for a hit and run driver headed toward Kaʻū from South
Kona. According to HPD, "A 24-year-old Captain Cook man suffered critical injuries following a hit-and-run collision on Saturday evening, on Highway 11, near the 110-mile marker in the area of Arthur Greenwell Park.
    Responding to a 8:46 p.m. call, police determined that an unknown vehicle was heading south (Ka‘ū bound) on Highway 11 when it struck the 24-year-old man who was walking south across the highway in the southbound lane. The man was not in the marked crosswalk when he was struck.
    Driver of the vehicle fled the scene and failed to render aid to the pedestrian. The pedestrian was transported to Kona Community Hospital where he is listed in critical condition.
    Police at the scene determined that there was only one responsible vehicle in the collision. Police located debris from a 2002-2003 Ford F-150 pickup truck, possibly a Harley-Davidson edition. A witness at the scene described the Ford pickup truck as a light color, possibly silver, having a lift kit with oversized tires and a tool box in the bed. Also, there were reports that the collision might have been captured on video surveillance.
    Police ask the public to review home and business surveillance videos for any vehicle matching the description from 8:30 p.m. to 9  p.m. on Saturday. The vehicle would have sustained damage to the driver’s side front fender, headlight and bumper.
    Failure to render aid when a person is seriously injured or killed in a traffic collision is a Class “B” felony that may be punishable by up to ten years in prison and fines up to $25,000 under section 291C-14 of Hawai'i Revised Statutes.
    Area II Traffic Enforcement Unit has initiated a negligent injury investigation and is asking for anyone who may have witnessed the collision to contact Officer Adam Roberg at (808) 326-4646, ext. 229, or email at adam.roberg@hawaiicounty.gov. Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at (808) 961-8300. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

POLICE ARRESTED 18 FOR DUI  during the week of May 1 through May 7. Hawai`i Island police made the arrests for motorists driving under the influence of an intoxicant. Three drivers were involved in a traffic collision. One was under age of 21.
    So far this year, there have been 355 DUI arrests compared with 372 during the same period last year, a decrease of 4.6 percent.

    Hawai‘i Police Department’s Traffic Services Section reviewed all updated crashes and found 311 major collisions so far this year compared with 272 during the same period last year, an increase of 14.3 percent.
    To date, there have been seven fatal crashes, resulting in eight fatalities, (one with multiple deaths); compared with 11 fatal crashes, resulting in 13 fatalities (one with multiple deaths) for the same time last year. This represents a decrease of 36.4 percent for fatal crashes, and 38.5 percent for fatalities.
    HPD promises that DUI roadblocks and patrols will continue island wide.