Miloli’i Fishing Grounds — South Coast of Hawai'i
Fish harvesters use a traditional fishing technique to catch ‘Ōpelu (mackerel scad) in Miloli’i, one of the last fishing villages in Hawai’i. Community harvesters feed the ‘Ōpelu at koa or schooling sites using palu or vegetable feed in Hawaiian. After spawning, the fishing season begins in August when harvesters in canoes use the palu to attract the fish into schools and then capture them in hoop nets.
‘Ōpelu is harvested in the fishing community of Miloli’i in a traditional fishery that involves fish harvesters and their youth. The community feeds the fish at "koa" or schooling sites from April to July, allowing the fish time to grown and spawn. During the fishing season, youth apprentices join harvesters in canoes with paddles or outboard engines for two to four days per week. They use "palu" (vegetable feed) to attract ‘Ōpelu into schools and then use a hoop net to surround and scoop the small fish from below.
In the fishing village of Miloli'i' on the southeast coast of Hawai’i, about 10 families regularly fish ‘Ōpelu. Craig Carvalho and Kukulu Kuahuia are two of the village's master fishermen who have a combined 80 plus years of fishing experience. They are both experts on the history and traditional fishing practices, which were handed down to them by their fathers.
The historical practices and traditional techniques of the Miloli’i’s fishery have evolved over centuries. In recent decades, these traditions broke down, but are now being revived by the community through Pa‘a Pono Miloli‘i, a local nonprofit, and with the help of Conservation International. The community and State of Hawai'i have implemented a number of measures that address conservation, including:
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The ‘Ōpelu fishery is jointly managed by the State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources and the community of Miloli‘i using traditional techniques and practices. Pa‘a Pono Miloli‘i, a local non-profit dedicated to the environmental, cultural, and socio-economic wellbeing of Miloli‘i, provides programs for elders to teach youth about the traditional fishing practices. Conservation International also supports the program by sponsoring annual Lawaiʻa ʻOhana (fishing family) camps that bring together community families for one week each year to learn and celebrate their traditional fishing techniques.
Fish stocks are monitored by the local community and the State Division of Aquatic Resources.
The fishing grounds are located near the village of Miloli’i, an isolated community which is well known as one of Hawai’i’s last fishing villages on the southeast coast of the Big Island. ‘Ōpelu are caught in the near shore area that fronts Miloli'i village in South Kona on the island of Hawai'i, from Papa Bay to Honomalino Bay.