New Laws Regulate Aquarium Fishermen
by Ron Tubbs, N.D.B.S., RT Distributors, Hawaii Tropical Fish Association
In 2011 aquarium fishermen started meeting with the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DNLR) representatives to develop a sustainable fishery plan for Oahu. On April 2 2015 Governor Ige signed the Oahu Aquarium fish rules into law as a result of years of meetings and hard work. The state legislature, DAR marine biologists, leading members of the aquarium fishery, land board members, the attorney general and many public meetings all contributed to the development of these new rules. In January 2014 the Big Island aquarium fish rules went into effect with their own meetings and rules designed for their Island.
The new rules will definitely reduce income in the fishery and most of the rules may not have been necessary to follow at this time for sustainability but to ensure future protections to reef fish on Oahu aquarium fishermen agreed to the new laws which are now in effect. “Doing the right thing, giving back to the ocean and working with researchers to ensure sustainability of Hawaii’s fish populations should be the goal of all fishermen” said Ron Tubbs. Everyone in the state including the fishermen will benefit from this increased management. It is a model for all fisheries worldwide.
Combining research from state marine biologists and first hand ocean experiences of the long term fishermen creates an active and clearer picture of the fishery which benefits both sides when it comes to management decisions.
DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) continues to be proactive in ocean management and as a result of these new laws pretty reef fish are even more protected as a result. The fishermen plan to continue to inform DAR officials of catch reports and any issues which may affect our ocean fish populations so all can take more action in future management if changes are needed.
The aquarium fishermen even at loss of income have willingly agreed to the new laws and plan to have continuing dialogue with DAR. They should be commended for doing this.
The new laws utilized nearly every known fishery management technique; net restrictions, bag limits, size restrictions, species restrictions along with the hundreds of other existing laws and preserves should maintain sustainability and healthy reef for many years to come.
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NEW O‘AHU AQUARIUM FISHING RULES NOW IN EFFECT
News Release from DLNR DAR
New rules for aquarium fish collecting are now in effect for waters within three nautical miles of the O‘ahu shoreline. The rules include new limits on nets used to collect marine life, daily commercial bag limits, commercial size limits, and a prohibition on the take of certain fish species. They were approved by the Board of Land and Natural Resources last October and became effective April 2, 2015.
The new rules were requested by a group of experienced commercial aquarium collectors from O‘ahu who recognized the need for better management of the fishery. They were concerned about the potential for waste of limited resources when fish are taken and, due to rough handling or overcrowding, become injured prior to sale to dealers.
Under the new rules, it is unlawful for any aquarium fish collector, commercial or recreational, to possess a small mesh net more than 30 feet long or six feet high, or to join more than two such nets together for a combined length of more than 60 feet. These limits are intended to reduce the use of long nets that would tend to increase injury to the fish collected.
The take or possession of ornate butterflyfish, oval butterflyfish, or reticulated butterflyfish is prohibited, because they feed strictly on coral and are therefore extremely difficult to maintain in captivity.
New daily commercial bag and size limits apply to yellow tang, kole, naso tang, Achilles tang, Moorish idol, Potter’s angel, bandit (banded) angelfish, and cleaner wrasse. The intention is to ensure the long-term viability of the fishery.
The rule is included on the gear restrictions page of this web site, and a copy of the complete rule can be viewed on the administrative rules page, Part IV, Chapter 77.
Below are the rules draft details:
§13-77-6 Oahu prohibited activities.
(a) Notwithstanding the provisions of chapter 13-75, it is unlawful for any person in or on the waters of Oahu, possessing a small mesh net authorized under a commercial aquarium fish permit or recreational aquarium fish permit, to possess a small mesh net that is:
(1) More than thirty (30) feet long; provided that two or more permittees may join two nets, each no more than thirty (30) feet long, for a total net length of no more than sixty (60) feet long; or
(2) More than six (6) feet in height.
(3) These restrictions regarding net length and height in subsection (a) shall take effect after December 31, 2012.
(b) It is unlawful for any person authorized under a commercial aquarium fish permit and in or on the waters of Oahu, to possess a small mesh net and take or possess a daily bag limit of more than:
(1) One hundred (100) yellow tang;
(2) Seventy-five (75) kole;
(3) Fifty (50) Potter’s angel;
(4) Fifty (50) naso tang;
(5) Twenty-five (25) moorish idol; or
(6) Ten (10) achilles tang.
A daily bag limit includes the cumulative number of regulated aquatic life taken or possessed by a person on any day.
(c) It is unlawful for any person authorized under a commercial aquarium fish permit and in or on the waters of Oahu, to possess a small mesh net and to take or possess more than six (6) of any of the following per day:
(1) Yellow tang less than one and one-half (1.5) inches in length;
(2) Yellow tang more than five (5) inches in length;
(3) Kole more than five (5) inches in length; or
(4) Cleaner wrasse of any size.
(d) It is unlawful for any person authorized under a commercial aquarium fish permit and in or on the waters of Oahu, to possess a small mesh net and to take or possess more than two (2) bandit angelfish that are longer than five and one-half (5.5) inches in length, per day.
(e) It is unlawful for any person authorized under a commercial aquarium fish permit and in or on the waters of Oahu, to possess a small mesh net and to take or possess more than two (2) bandit angelfish that are longer than five and one-half (5.5) inches in length, per day.
(f) It is unlawful for any person authorized under a commercial aquarium fish permit, to operate a vessel on the waters of Oahu with:
(1) More than the daily bag limits as provided in subsections (b), (c), and (d) for the number of persons with commercial aquarium fish permits on board the vessel; or
(2) More than three times the number of any daily bag limit, regardless of the number of persons with commercial aquarium fish permits on board.
(f) It is unlawful for any person, while possessing a small mesh net authorized under a commercial aquarium fish permit or recreational aquarium fish permit while in or on the waters of Oahu, to take or possess any of the following species:
(1) Ornate butterflyfish;
(2) Oval butterflyfish; and
(3) Reticulated butterflyfish." (Auth: HRS §§187A-5, 188-31) (Imp: HRS §§187A-5, 188-31)
The adoption of chapter 13-77, Hawaii Administrative Rules, shall take effect ten days after filing with the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.