For centuries, Hawaiians sustained an abundant fish supply however, in the past decade Hawai’i’s fisheries and the world’s fishing stocks have collapsed. However, the wisdom of the natives of Hawai’i can help protect and restore marine resources. It is important to understand and articulate what it means to be a Pono fishermen/fisherwoman. In old Hawaii, the people have learned to interact with their environment by observing the life cycles of fish and plants, and knowing when the appropriate time was to harvest. They understood the cycles of fish and placed kapuʻs as to not disturb those cycles, including the spawning of reef fishes. This practice of observing, understanding, and harvesting is the foundation of the Hawaiian fisher methodology. This enabled the Hawaiian people to fish, eat, and live sustainably. Today, it is a lot more difficult to replicate those fishing practices. But it is possible to take the same principles of that practice and adapt them to how people fish today.
Many of the methods they used are similar to strategies employed in fisheries management today, including protected areas, community-based management, regulation of gear and effort, aquaculture, and restrictions on vulnerable species. Differences between management then and now, are that in native Hawaiian society rules were strictly enforced and aquaculture was used by the native Hawaiians as food security during tough times. As such, Hawaiians stocked fishponds with small, algae-eating species, requiring little outside effort to support them. Modern aquaculture, in contrast, relies heavily on feeding wild-caught species to farmed ones.
Our fishers agree to uphold the following Pono Fishing Standards for all harvesting practices while supplying Local Iʻa. Our fishers also agree to work with Local Iʻa to provide their own information on how their fishing methods are integrated with the Pono Fishing Standards. Our fishers agree to supply Local Iʻa with seafood caught according to these practices.