Ban sought on bottom fishing

Ban sought on bottom fishing

The outcome of a towering battle over fishing in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands could cost the state more than a third of its prized bottomfish — including the larger deepwater snappers (onaga) for which restaurateurs and their customers pay a premium.

Tropic Fish and Vegetable Center driver and warehouseman Tysen Justo holds an onaga, also called a snapper. Tropic opposes a ban on bottom fishing in Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
Richard Ambo • The Honolulu Advertiser

“The snappers are the premier entree in restaurants for Hawaiian fish. We lose that, we lose our niche in the market,” said Glenn Tanoue, a fish wholesaler with Tropic Fish and Vegetable Center at Ward Farmers Market. “What will it mean to our tourism market if they can’t eat Hawaiian fish?”

An array of environmental groups and Hawaiian activists are pushing to end commercial bottom fishing in those islands, arguing in part that it serves as a nursery for the fisheries of the main islands.

But fishery scientists and the anglers say fish stocks there are healthy and well-managed, and there’s no scientific basis to shut it down. The federal fishery council for the region has recommended bottom fishing be continued largely as it has been operating.

Consumers — both residents and tourists — are caught in the middle.

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