New O‘ahu aquarium fishing rules now in effect

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.