We Put a Stop to It.
“Fish are eating my air bubbles once again,” says lifelong scuba diver Mike Nakachi, who explains that naturally curious fish like the kīkākapu (Tinker’s butterflyfish) will interact with you in the water — if they haven’t been previously harmed or harassed by collectors.
Nakachi and Kaupiko, both Native Hawaiians, want to see a Hawaiʻi where the land is restored, and the communities with it.
“Our vision is to be a thriving Hawaiian fishing community,” says Kaupiko, who teaches traditional and responsible fishing practices to children in West Hawaiʻi. “Giving the children a foundation and understanding of Hawaiian values helps them succeed whether they decide to stay here or not.”
“Anything done on an industrial level should really be under the microscope...”
Kaupiko is also helping to create a marine management plan to strengthen protections of key subsistence species and increase self-sufficiency. And Nakachi, who is also part of an Earthjustice lawsuit to protect whitetip sharks from industrial fishing, wants to see the cultural considerations in the aquarium lawsuits extend to other potentially harmful activities.
“Anything done on an industrial level should really be under the microscope, especially in this day and age,” says Nakachi. “We have only these eight beautiful islands in the middle of the Pacific, and they can only sustain so much human impact.”
Despite the current ecological crises, Nakachi remains hopeful about the future. He’s seen how Earthjustice litigation has forced a shift among legislators and regulators in recognizing cultural values and respecting a sense of place, particularly in a climate-changed world. And he sees how Earthjustice attorneys have successfully pushed for changes within the law that reflect the hearts of the people.
“Having culture, having that identity of place, it’s no longer seen as a bad thing,” says Nakachi. “Hawaiians aren’t Hawaiians without ʻĀina, [which means ‘land’], and ʻĀina isn’t the same without Hawaiians.”