KAILUA-KONA (AP) - More than 200 people attended a public hearing on a proposal that would make West Hawaii the only area in the state to ban scuba spearfishing.
People filled the cafeteria at Kealakehe High School for Wednesday's hearing, according to West Hawaii Today.
"Don't ban it and stop local people from feeding their families," said Leonard Torricer.
He asked that the practice not be banned entirely and suggested creating areas where scuba spearfishing would be allowed so that people could still feed their families.
But Steven Thompson said a ban was needed because scuba spearfishing "is not a sport - it is a slaughter, especially at night when some species are asleep."
Scuba spearfishing would be outlawed in area waters by a West Hawaii Regional Fishery Management Area rule, part of a Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Aquatic Resources' package of proposed rule changes and amendments.
The proposals follow a decade of research, committee meetings and community discussions. The goal is to ensure continued resource sustainability, enhance nearshore resources and minimize user conflicts and confusion within the management area.
Creating a Kaohe Bay Fish Replenishment Area prohibiting fish collection and feeding received support from a majority of West Hawaii residents during the hearing. The ban would affect a 1,500-foot section commonly known as Pebble Beach in South Kona.
Also being considered is establishing a 40-species list designating fish that aquarium collectors could remove within the West Hawaii Regional Fishery Management Area, a prohibition on the take of nine shark and ray species and two invertebrates, and requirement of a West Hawaii Aquarium Permit.
Testimony is being accepted through Dec. 19.
The proposals are available online at hawaii.gov/dlnr/dar/announcements.html.