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A New Law Brings Back Subsistence Fishing in Hawaii

On Kauai, the state has established a Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area to protect a centuries-old way of life.
A man fishes on rocks off Kailua Beach near Honolulu.
A man fishes on rocks off Kailua Beach near Honolulu.Lucy Pemoni / Reuters

Presley Wann remembers life on the north shore of Kaua’i, Hawaii’s fourth-largest island, during his 1950s childhood, when there was a gravel road to the beach and cows, not cars, traversed its path.

One early morning, Wann tagged along when his uncle went fishing, watching as he dove into an underwater sea cave for lobster, pried limpets off rocks, and threw his handmade net to catch kala, a species of unicorn fish. Or maybe it was moi, a threadfin—decades have weathered the memory’s details a bit.