Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed the West Hawaii Regional Fishery Management Area Rules, which are the result of 10 years of work by more than 500 community members to more effectively regulate and protect marine resources in West Hawaii. The State of Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) approved the rule changes on June 28, 2013, after considering more than 1,200 pieces of testimony and 2,300 comments. The rules further implement Act 306, passed by the Hawaii Legislature in 1998 (HRS, Chapter 188F).
"I felt it was important to take the time necessary to consider views from the community on both sides of the issue," Gov. Abercrombie said. "An important component of the rules package is the understanding of our responsibility to continuously reevaluate its impact to ensure that we are achieving desired outcomes. This approach in the West Hawaii region will allow scientists, managers, those who fish, and the community to effectively evaluate the evidence. It will also help the community and the state to test adaptive management strategies for our marine resources through monitoring and enforcement.
"I would like to thank the West Hawaii community for its outstanding effort in bringing these rules to conclusion."
The new rules apply in the West Hawaii Regional Fishery Management Area, which is approximately 147 miles from Upolu Point, North Kohala to Ka Lae, Kau. In addition to making technical changes, the rules:
prohibit take or possession of nine species of inshore sharks, rays and two invertebrate crown-of-thorns predators;
establish a list of 40 fish species permitted for aquarium take with size and bag limits on three of these species (No other fish may be collected for aquarium use);
establish a 1,500-foot section of Kaohe Bay (Pebble Beach) in South Kona as a Fish Replenishment Area (FRA) where aquarium collecting and/or recreational fish feeding is prohibited;
prohibit scuba and/or re-breather spear fishing or possession of such gear with a spear and/or speared aquatic life;
clarify the boundaries of Puako Bay and Puako Reef; and
clarify the no-netting 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., BLNR chairperson. "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."