Reel In Roi, Save West Reefs
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Following the success of last year’s inaugural Triple Crown of Spearfishing tournament, Kris Tyler of West Side Dive & Tackle is planning a bigger and better fishing tourney next month at the reefs along Ko Olina.
But unlike 2009’s three-part format, Tyler said this time around he had to condense the event to a single day - which works out just fine, in his opinion.
“Three different tournaments on three different days proved to be a lot tougher,” he said.“It went as well as I thought it could go. We had a good turnout at the end, and it was successful, but this year it’ll be even bigger.”
Under the new name West Side Roi Reckoning, the tournament is scheduled for July 31 and promises to be an all-day bash filled with live local bands, bounce houses for the keiki, hula shows, food, prizes and, of course, spearfishing.
An avid waterman himself, Tyler created the tournament as a means to rid the waters of three of Hawaii’s most-invasive fish species - the roi, toa and taape.
“There’s a grassroots movement in Hawaii to clean out these invasive species from our reefs,” said Tyler.“I, being the owner of a store, thought maybe I could legitimize it and add an actual tournament where people could come out and have a nice day and get prizes for their efforts.”
The main target of the day, he said, is the roi, or the peacock grouper. Roi is an invasive species introduced to the Islands in the 1950s to boost local fish populations. Like most introduced wildlife, however, the fish soon was causing more harm than good.
“There are two bad things with the roi: For one, it’s really territorial and will eat the babies of other fish. They basically eat the fish that we want to eat,” explained Tyler. “The other negative thing is they carry ciguatera, a bacteria that grows in the plant life of the reef. Little fish feed off the coral, and the roi eat the little fish, so they have a high concentration of the toxin.”
According to Tyler, when people eat roi, they are at a higher risk of getting ciguatera poisoning, which causes intestinal problems, vomiting, diarrhea and fever.
“Your sensations of hot and cold switch on each other,” he added.“Worst-case scenario I’ve heard was a guy was in the hospital for three weeks. It’s kinda nasty. You don’t want it for sure.”
A special prize goes for the biggest roi. The toa, snapper, and taape, which is the striped snapper, also are targeted.
“You can’t shoot anything else,” Tyler said. “There are regulations on a lot of fish, and these ones are not regulated, so people can just go out and shoot ‘em up, and that’s what we’re doing. And it’s an easy fish to shoot.”
Competitors meet at 7:30 a.m. at Kahi Park Pavilion and will fish along the 5-mile stretch of reef fronting Ko Olina Resort aka Electric Beach. All fishers must be back with their catch by 1:30 p.m., at which time the after-party begins.
The University of Hawaii Pacific Research Center for Biomedicine and NOAA: Habitat Conservation Division will participate as part of their research efforts. Also expected is Hawaii Goes Fishing, which will film the event and has donated a six-night Vegas vacation package for two as a special raffle giveaway.
All entrants should have at least one year’s experience spearfishing. Folks also can help beautify the area at a beach cleanup, which will be held during the fishing tour-ney.
Early registration costs $80 per two-person team by June 18. Entry will be $100 thereafter. Part of the proceeds from the tournament and the sale of meal and raffle tickets ($5 each) will go to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hawaii.
“I just want to have a fun day,” Tyler said.
“I’m kind of just excited that’s it’s going to be a bigger event this year and I just want people to have a good time doing something good for charity and for the environment.”
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