Hanau ka ʻŌpelu, hanau ke Akule i ke kai la holo.

Decapterus spp., known as ‘ōpelu, is an important food and baitfish in Hawaiʻi, spoken of in the Hawaiian creation chant, the Kumulipo, which traces the genealogical origin of the Hawaiian people. ʻŌpelu schools close to shore, and is traditionally caught by adept local lawaiʻa (fishers) around the islands. When we fish for ʻōpelu and our other native fish in a righteous way -- lawaiʻa pono -- we care for the fish that feed our families.

Lawaiʻa pono means to fish Hawaiian; to restore place-based fishing practices; to fish in ways that honor the values and traditions of our elders. Fish feed our families. Lawaiʻa pono is for the benefit of our fisheries, our families, our communities, and everyone who has come to love and fish the places we call home.

Community-based Subsistence Fishing Areas (CBSFA)

CBSFAs are legally-designated areas where our Hawaiʻi fishing communities, in partnership with government, establish fishing rules based on the traditions of that area. CBSFAs are one way that we perpetuate lawaiʻa pono.

In our current state, we see before us an inevitable path towards fewer fish and greater regulation. In response, through CBSFAs we are putting forward community-based fishing rules we know to be sensible, responsible, and consistent with the time-honored fishing traditions of our islands.

lawaiʻa pono

Lawaiʻa pono -- to fish in a Hawaiian way -- expresses our belief in each other, that we can and will live out our island values of reciprocity, respect and trust in one another.

E Alu Pū gathering in Moʻomomi, Molokaʻi

Communities supporting communities

Rural fishing communities across Hawaiʻi are supporting each other in the effort to lawaiʻa pono -- and we are looking at CBSFAs as one solution.

abundance for the future

Lawaiʻa pono expresses our shared hope for abundance for the future, to which we welcome you to join, support and learn more.


Q. How is a CBSFA created?

Fishing communities that propose CBSFAs must first affirm that fishing is vital to their culture of subsistence -- that the fish of the area feeds their families. Communities must engage in a process with the state of Hawaiʻi -- which can take years -- and involves substantial research, countless community meetings, repeated agency consultations, and a multi-step public rulemaking process. CBSFAs efforts are primarily led by loea lawaiʻa -- the master fishers -- of the community.

Q. Why CBSFAs?

Ultimately, CBSFAs are about ʻāina momona -- abundant fisheries that feed our islands. Fish move and spawn differently in different places. Our loea lawaiʻa (master fishers) have intimate knowledge of how fish move, spawn, and behave in their home fishing grounds. CBSFAs build on the foundation of their knowledge and ensure that our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will fish and eat and be sustained by the abundance of the same fish we catch, prepare, share, and eat today.

Q. Are CBSFAs a way to exclude some people and favor others?

Everyone who fishes within a CBSFA must follow the same rules, whether their family has lived in the community for generations or they just showed up this morning.

CBSFAs help ensure that traditions of fishing that perpetuate abundance in our rural fishing communities are known and honored by all.

This webpage was produced by E Alu Pū, with support from Kuaʻāina Ulu ʻAuamo (KUA). Funding support provided by the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Illustrations by Kelsey Ige,

Photo credits: Michael P. Hoppe with mahalos to Kawika Winter, Kim Moa

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.