East Hawaii News

Public Hearing Approved for Proposed New Rules for Lay Nets

December 10, 2021, 12:46 PM HST
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The state will have a meeting and public hearing to establish a new annual lay net permit requirement and fee and other proposed changes to existing rules.

The state Board of Land and Natural Resources on Friday approved a proposal from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Aquatic Resources to host a statewide meeting and public hearing to amend Hawai‘i Administrative Rules regulating the possession and use of lay nets.

PC: Department of Land and Natural Resources

“Lay nets continue to be one our most problematic fishing gear types in terms of illegal use and unintended by-catch,” said DAR Administrator Brian Neilson explained. “A lay net permit will allow the department to better regulate this gear type and also offer more opportunities to educate fishers on the responsible use of lay nets.”

Under the proposed new rules, lay net users could lose their permit if convicted of a violation. DLNR proposes charging a $25 annual permit fee. The proposed rules also require a lay net to be attended the entire time it is set and clarifies that an unattended net is one where it or surface buoys are not within sight of the user.

Other proposed amendments are sought to strengthen the enforceability of lay net rules and bring them into conformity with other laws. In its approval of DAR’s request for a public hearing, the BLNR also required two additional amendments:

  • Clarify that only one net may be used by a permittee at a time.
  • Clarify that the gill net used as a surround net must always be attended.
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Other proposed amendments include:

  • New definitions for freshwater stream, lobster net, multi-panel lay net and throw net to clarify meanings.
  • Amend rules to prohibit the take of sharks with firearms to be consistent with state law.
  • Amend rule to clarify that akule, or big-eye scad, may be taken with legal throw nets.
  • Amend activities prohibited in selected areas and make conforming amendments to special lay net rules that apply to Moloka‘i and West Hawai‘i Island.
  • Establish the lay net permit requirement, remove existing lay net registration requirement and prohibit leaving a lay net unattended for any amount of time.
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During its last session, the state Legislature authorized DAR to adopt rules to require permits for the use and possession of lay nets including reasonable permit fees and provisions for revocation, suspension and withholding of permits for noncompliance with the rules. An additional proposed amendment will clarify the range of penalties, including asset forfeiture to facilitate enforcement of the rules and deter violations.

Neilson thinks new rules will encourage greater compliance and help crack down on the illegal use of lay nets.

“Unlike a registration, a permit is revocable,” he said. “So, under the existing rules if someone is convicted of a lay net violation, there is no way to prohibit them from registering and using a new lay net.”

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Under current rules, fishers are allowed to leave a lay net unattended for up to one-half-hour. DAR thinks this makes enforcement difficult, as an enforcement officer must observe a lay net for 30-minutes before determining a violation happened.

Monk seals, turtles, and other marine life can get tangled up in nets and die in the half-hour period of unattendance.

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