As I’m sure you’re aware, the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) has been actively engaged in Hawaiʹi Administrative Rule making relating to West Hawaiʹi coral reefs. Public testimony on these rules was accepted from 17 October, 2012 to 19 December, 2012. A Public Hearing on the proposed rules was held in West Hawaiʹi on 05 December, 2012.
All submitted public testimony and comments are attached in three separate documents as well as an overall summary.
After an assessment of the necessity and utility of the rules and in response to overwhelming supportive public testimony, DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) will recommend to the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) that the West Hawaii rules be approved in their entirety.
The rules include the following:
For the West Hawaiʹi Regional Fishery Management Area (WHRFMA):
Ø Establishment of a list of 40 fish species permitted for aquarium take. Only fish found on this “White List” can be collected live for aquarium use. Size and bag limits are also established for 3 of the species on the White List.
Ø Prohibition of SCUBA/Rebreather spearfishing and/or possession of such gear with a spear or speared aquatic life.
Ø Prohibition of take or possession of 9 species of inshore sharks and rays and 2 invertebrate crown-of-thorns predators.
Ø Establishment of a 1,500 foot section of Ka‘ohe Bay (Pebble Beach), South Kona, as a Fish Replenishment Area (FRA) where no aquarium collecting or recreational fish feeding will be allowed.
Several other WHRFMA rule changes are also proposed to enhance enforcement of aquarium collecting regulations and to clarify existing rule provisions:
Ø Establishment of a West Hawaiʹi Aquarium Permit for both recreational and commercial collectors to take aquarium fish in the WHRFMA.
Ø Possession of aquarium collecting gear or aquarium fish on a vessel after sunset or before sunrise is permissible only when prior notification is made to the DAR-Kona office.
Ø Nets or containers used to capture or hold aquarium fish must be labeled with the commercial marine license (CML) number(s) of the persons who own or are using such equipment.
Ø Minimum mesh size requirements for “lay nets” do not apply to nets permitted for use under an aquarium permit, and labeled with the CML number of the person owning or using the net.
In addition to the above provisions there are also proposed rule changes involving updates to two Fisheries Management Areas (FMA) within the WHRFMA and an update to DLNR’s lay net rule:
Ø Clarification of the boundaries of the Puakō Bay and Puakō Reef Fisheries Management Area (chapter 13-54) (out to the edge of the fringing reef) and the types of nets prohibited (all except thrownets).
Ø Clarification of the no-netting boundaries within the Keauhou Bay Fisheries Management Area rule (chapter 13-57) to be consistent with the no-netting boundaries established under the WHRFMA rule.
Ø Technical amendments to the department’s statewide lay net rule (chapter 13-75-12.4) for consistency with the proposed WHRFMA rule (chapter 13-60.4) and to reflect differences between the rules.
The next step in the rulemaking process is final decision making by the BLNR. It is anticipated that the Board will address DAR’s recommendation of approval at a meeting to be held shortly after the current legislative session ends (May 2013). We are working on having the BLNR hold that meeting in West Hawai’i.
Mahalo nui for all of the work by so many people over such a long time.
William j .Walsh Ph.D.
Hawai’i Division of Aquatic Resources
74-380B Kealakehe Pkwy.
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740