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Farewell, Rep. Denny Coffman

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Rep. Denny Coffman. (Photo special to Hawaii 24/7)

Birute Lanys Wicart | Special to Hawaii 24/7

Gov. Neil Abercombie took advantage of his presence Saturday at a Big Island reception honoring retiring Rep. Denny Coffman to sign the rules package produced by the West Hawaii Fisheries Council after years of work.

The governor said signing the rules package was a fitting tribute to Coffman, who spent two and one-half terms in the House of Representatives trying to improve the living conditions of his constituents and protecting West Hawaii’s environment. Coffman had advocated for the fisheries measure during his time as a legislator.

The rules are designed to protect the area’s marine life by establishing fish replenishment areas as a way of protecting the state’s fish populations and by codifying prohibitions on scuba spearfishing in certain West Hawaii waters, as well as the “white list” of fish aquarium fish collectors may remove within the West Hawaii Regional Fishery Management Area.

The package also introduces size and bag limits for yellow tang, Achilles tang and kole.

The event, which was hosted by the governor’s office with help from District 5 constituents, was to thank Coffman for his service to West Hawaii. The recent death of Coffman’s wife of 44 years and family health issues made his resignation unavoidable.

In addition to the governor, the gathering included state senators and representatives, County Council members, community and business leaders, and constituents and friends who came together to honor Coffman, praising him for his commitment to improve conditions in West Hawaii and thanking him for making the Big Island and the state of Hawaii a better place to live.

His resignation from the House is effective Dec. 20 and he will move to Las Vegas. The Democratic party will forward a list of three candidates and the governor will appoint one to serve the remainder of Coffman’s term.

(Video courtesy of Big Island Video News)

(Photo courtesy of the Governor’s Office)

Governor signs West Hawaii Regional Fishery Management Area rules


Gov. Neil Abercrombie has signed the West Hawaii Regional Fishery Management Area Rules, which are the result of 10 years of work by more than 500 community members to more effectively regulate and protect marine resources in West Hawaii.

The state Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) approved the rule changes June 28, 2013, after considering more than 1,200 pieces of testimony and 2,300 comments. The rules further implement Act 306, passed by the Hawaii Legislature in 1998 (HRS, Chapter 188F).

“I felt it was important to take the time necessary to consider views from the community on both sides of the issue,” Abercrombie said. “An important component of the rules package is the understanding of our responsibility to continuously reevaluate its impact to ensure that we are achieving desired outcomes. This approach in the West Hawaii region will allow scientists, managers, those who fish, and the community to effectively evaluate the evidence. It will also help the community and the state to test adaptive management strategies for our marine resources through monitoring and enforcement.

“I would like to thank the West Hawaii community for their outstanding effort in bringing these rules to conclusion,” he said.

The new rules apply in the West Hawaii Regional Fishery Management Area, which is approximately 147 miles from Upolu Point, North Kohala to Ka Lae, Kau.

In addition to making technical changes, the rules:

* Prohibit take or possession of nine species of inshore sharks, rays and two invertebrate crown-of-thorns predators

* Establish a list of 40 fish species permitted for aquarium take with size and bag limits on three of these species (no other fish may be collected for aquarium use)

* Establish a 1,500-foot section of Kaohe Bay (Pebble Beach) in South Kona as a Fish Replenishment Area (FRA) where aquarium collecting and/or recreational fish feeding is prohibited

* Prohibit scuba and/or re-breather spear fishing or possession of such gear with a spear and/or speared aquatic life

* Clarify the boundaries of Puako Bay and Puako Reef

* Clarify the no-netting boundaries of the Keauhou Bay Fisheries Management Area

“The Land Board voted to support the rules package proposed by the West Hawaii Fisheries Council and presented by staff, in response to the many testimonies received in support of these changes,” said William J. Aila, Jr., BLNR chairperson. “The rules will strengthen the current management of the aquarium fishery in West Hawaii and address community concerns about increasing pressure on our marine resources.”

The complete rules are available:

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