The state Board of Land and Natural Resources has banned scuba-assisted spearfishing off West Hawaii and has limited aquarium fish collection to 40 species. After listening to more than six hours of testimony, the board voted 4-2 in favor of the ban.
The move toward a ban on scuba spearfishing began over ten years ago and grew out of concern for the type of fish scuba divers target. Compared to freedivers, scuba divers go deeper into areas where fish take refuge and collect different types of fish, like grey snapper and pink snapper.
But the Hawaii Nearshore Fisherman say that the ban would compromise the community's ability to collect food, and make fishing more dangerous "The use of scuba and spear is the nature of our gathering style. We have been sustainably gathering, harvesting in this manner for the last 50 years," Tony Costa told the Associated Press.
In a survey conducted last year, nearly 90 percent of West Hawaii's 565 residents supported the scuba ban.
For more, read about the spearfishermen freediving the oil rigs off of Louisiana's coast.