INVASIVE SPECIES are those that, due to human activities, have proliferated in areas where they naturally would not. In Hawaii, the peacock grouper (roi), blue-line snapper (ta’ape) and another snapper (toau) are predatory fishes that were introduced to the main Hawaiian islands many decades ago. They’ve since proliferated and are believed to be both competing with and consuming native species that are (1) functionally important to the health of coral reefs and (2) create important fisheries for people.
SO WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT IT?
One of the greatest footprints of mankind on this planet has been our ability to hunt and eradicate animal life on land and in the sea. OVERFISHING has become a global reality that may, in fact, define a significant era in the ocean’s history. Though overfishing is clearly considered a negative byproduct of mankind’s rapid colonization of the globe; fishing itself, is nothing more than an innate nature that we share with other wildlife. I LOVE TO FISH! The fact that we are (1) so abundant and (2) so good at it might be a problem; but in Hawaii, we are using this innate desire and remarkable ability for good.
Spearfishermen have joined forces in a number of arenas throughout the Hawiian islands to take personal responsibility and individual action to control invasive predators to the benefit of Hawaii’s native reef fishes. By channeling and focusing the diligence and skill of Hawaii’s greatest spearfishermen, the goal is to overfish the invaders to the point that they are ecological (functionally) extinct.
There are a number of quotes out there about turning weaknesses into strengths and negatives into positives. They apply here only if you’re (a) willing to concede that our tendency to overfish is a weakness, and (b) that eradicating invasive fishes is good. After hanging out with fishermen, sportfishing retailers, fish market operators, and fishery managers (ALL WORKING TOGETHER) at a Reef Rescue invasive species eradication event, I’m personally convinced that this is a form of good kine overfishing.