Baldwin High School student Chelsea Kau got up close and personal with marine life on a recent Maui Youth Alliance excursion to visit the Waihee Beach Park with Department of Land and Natural Resources staff and learn about ocean safety. The best part of the visit “was when I got to cut a hole in a fish to feel for the cavity in its belly, and then suture the fish,” the 15-year-old Wailuku resident said.
Kau said she gained an appreciation of the impact humans are having on the ocean and its sea life. Overfishing may be one of the biggest problems contributing to fewer fish in the ocean, she said. “But, it’s also because of these other land factors such as sewage pumps and humans stepping on the coral reefs, etcetera. But the only thing that can be controlled right now, is the overfishing.” Kau, who has participated in the Youth Alliance for two years, advocated for diving and fishing for subsistence only. “That’s the way it should be, because you don’t need 10 or 15 fish for a family of three or four,” she said. “Take what you need.” After visiting marine resource officials, Kau said she believes shark attacks are “more than likely” caused by debris that has floated to the Hawaiian Islands from the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan on March 11, 2011.
Kau said she believes ocean safety is a challenge: “It’s ‘something you can’t control’ as ‘Mother Nature is unpredictable.’ But because we have lifeguards and all of the land emergency services, they’re saving the lives of people who don’t know our currents and tides,” she said. Youth Alliance members attend monthly events during the school year to explore and gain a greater understanding of key components in the Maui community. The Maui Economic Development Board coordinates the group’s gatherings.