Centuries ago, Hawaiians caught three times more fish annually than scientists generally consider to be sustainable in modern times — and maintained this level of harvest for more than 400 years, researchers report in a new study in the journal Fish and Fisheries.
The Hawaiians used many techniques similar to those employed today, like temporary or permanent bans from fishing in certain areas, restrictions on certain species and gear, and catch limits. But they enforced the rules strictly; breaking them could mean corporal punishment or even death.
While the authors obviously don’t advocate such extremes, penalties in some areas could be stricter, the authors suggested, and enforcement could improve. In Hawaii today, “you get penalized much more harshly if you shoplift sunglasses from a store than if you take a bunch of fish that are the wrong size or kind,” Dr. Kittinger said in an interview.