New Rules to Protect West Hawaii Marine Resources
by Dave Smith
Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Saturday signed a new set of rules designed to more effectively regulate and protect marine resources off the entire west side of the Big Island.
The rules were approved in June by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources which considered more than 1,200 pieces of testimony and 2,300 comments.
The West Hawaii Regional Fishery Management Area Rules took a decade to refine with the assistance of more than 500 community members, the governor said in a statement.
The new chapter in the Hawaii Administrative Rules applies to the fishery management area extending 147 miles from Upolu Point in North Kohala to Ka Lae, Ka`u, also known as South Point.
The new rules:
- Prohibit the taking or possession of nine species of inshore sharks, rays and two predators of crown-of-thorns, which are types of starfish that consume coral
- Establish an exclusive list of 40 fish species that can be taken by aquarium-fish collectors. It also establishes size and bag limits for three of the species: yellow tang, Achilles tang and goldring surgeonfish, also known as kole.
- Establish a 1,500-foot section of Kaohe Bay, also known as Pebble Beach, in South Kona as a Fish Replenishment Area where aquarium collecting and recreational fish feeding is prohibited
- Prohibit the use of scuba or re-breather gear for use while spear-fishing
- Clarify the boundaries of Puako Bay and Puako Reef
- Clarify the no-net boundaries of the Keauhou Bay Fisheries Management Area
“The Land Board voted to support the rules package proposed by the West Hawaii Fisheries Council and presented by staff, in response to the many testimonies received in support of these changes,” said William J. Aila Jr., head of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
“The rules will strengthen the current management of the aquarium fishery in West Hawaii and address community concerns about increasing pressure on our marine resources.”
The rules are available at the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources website at http://state.hi.us/dlnr/dar/announcements.html