Fishing Pono

A new documentary produced by Kauai attorney Teresa Tico, FISHING PONO: LIVING IN HARMONY WITH THE SEA, will have its television premiere next week Thursday, August 14, at 9 p.m. on PBS Hawaii.

FISHING PONO tells the story of Native Hawaiians on the island of Molokai who are using traditional conservation methods to restore fisheries in the waters of their island.

Featuring life long fisherman Kelson ‘Mac’ Poepoe, and directed by award winning helmer Mary Lambert, FISHING PONO’s graphic images of the commercial exploitation of Pacific fisheries leaves no room for doubt that current practices are unsustainable and will leave nothing for future generations.

Poepoe’s fishing conservation program on Molokai, based on historical practices, is an inspiring story of how one community turned the tide on a seemingly doomed resource.

Also featured in the film are traditional fishermen from Haena, Kauai, who are working to establish a Community based Subsistence Fishing District.

Tico said what she found most interesting about making this film is what she learned from Poepoe.

“We don’t have to reinvent the wheel to preserve and protect our natural resources.  The solutions have been used by others before us for millennia,” Tico said. “Uncle Mac Poepoe used a very common sense and traditional approach to restoring the fishing grounds at Moomomi.  Their fishing grounds were declining so they stopped taking the fish with the most eggs and the biggest fish with the best DNA.  And they enforced their rules through community based management.  It was so simple yet it took him years to convince everyone that not taking all the fish was the way to restore the fishing grounds.  Essentially, it’s learning self discipline.”

By paying attention to our whole environment we can preserve and protect the resources within it, Tico said.

“You can’t grow a tree without water.  So you pay attention to the rainfall and stop cutting down trees until you build an irrigation system.  In the case of our fisheries, if a species is disappearing, you stop killing it.  But saying it and doing it are two different things.  Uncle Mac did it.What I found most interesting about making this film is what I learned from Uncle Mac Poepoe.  We don’t have to reinvent the wheel to preserve and protect our natural resources.  The solutions have been used by others before us for millennia,” Tico said.

Poepoe used a very common sense and traditional approach to restoring the fishing grounds at Moomomi, Tico said.

“Their fishing grounds were declining so they stopped taking the fish with the most eggs and the biggest fish with the best DNA.  And they enforced their rules through community based management.  It was so simple yet it took him years to convince everyone that not taking all the fish was the way to restore the fishing grounds.  Essentially, it’s learning self discipline,” Tico said.

“By paying attention to our whole environment we can preserve and protect the resources within it.  You can’t grow a tree without water.  So you pay attention to the rainfall and stop cutting down trees until you build an irrigation system.  In the case of our fisheries, if a species is disappearing, you stop killing it.  But saying it and doing it are two different things.  Uncle Mac did it.”

PBS has over 300 stations in North American so Fishing Pono will be seen by a large audience, Tico said.

“Our themes are universal and everyone can relate to them.  How do we save our forests, our drinking water, our air?  The lessons we can learn from Uncle Mac are simple.  We pay attention and stop doing the things that are destroying our environment.  The key is conservation but we must be self disciplined to conserve our resources.  The entire community, local and global, has to to work together.  And we have to do it, for our future generations.”

The Hawaii film has also been picked up by a network nationally.

FISHING PONO will be included in a new 13-part series called Local, USA, that showcases documentaries from local public television and independent producers.

The series of evergreen topics, hosted by Evan Allen-Gessesse and Niccole Thurman, will air on the World Channel, Monday, October 21, 2013. The hosts will introduce people and places in different parts of the country, and the stories that make them unique.

According to a statement from the network, “The stories build on one another to provide not only a better understanding of the topic, but also of what unites the U.S. in all its diversity — and what makes places distinctive. Episodes offer a broad spectrum of perspectives including unique characters, cherished town traditions, returning veterans, home-made art, and farm foreclosures.”

WORLD Executive Producer Chris Hastings said: “Local, USA brings together the best local stories from within the public television system and beyond. Through each of these episodes, we’re giving a voice to every corner of America.”

“We’re really trying to create a true sense of community with this show,” agreed co-producer Ed Griffin.” Even though you might live in the Midwest, we want you to feel connected to a story that comes from the Pacific Northwest or the Southeastern corner of Florida,” he said.

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