Shark fishing ban goes into effect January 1
A bill passed by the 2021 State Legislature banning shark fishing will take effect January 1, 2022. Act 51 (House Bill 553) makes it illegal to knowingly capture, entangle, or kill a shark in state marine waters. The new law applies to all shark species found in Hawaiian waters.
According to Brian Neilson, Division of Aquatic Resources Administrator, “Our Department is well aware of how important sharks are to maintain healthy marine ecosystems. And we recognize their importance for native Hawaiian cultural practices and beliefs.”
The new law does not apply to:
- people with special activity permits issued by DLNR;
- shark fishing for public safety purposes as authorized or conducted by DLNR;
- sharks taken outside of state marine waters, with required documentation;
- sharks captured, entangled, or killed for self-defense or the defense of another;
- sharks captured or killed according to a permit issued by DLNR.
Neilson pointed out, “It’s important to recognize that the new shark fishing ban goes into effect January 1, 2022, but DLNR still has work to do before it’s fully implemented.” According to the statute, DLNR may adopt administrative rules to implement the new law, including but not limited to:
- ensuring that the incidental capture and release of sharks while targeting other species is not a violation;
- preventing the wanton waste of sharks; and
- limiting gear, such as gill nets, in areas identified as shark nursery habitats.
The Department will soon begin the public administrative rule process to implement the law, including establishment of a non-commercial permit for the take of sharks. According to Act 51, the conditions of the permit “shall include native Hawaiian cultural protocol, size and species restrictions, and a prohibition on species listed as endangered or threatened.”
DLNR recommends that fishers avoid fishing in areas known to be frequented by sharks, especially pupping areas, and use barbless circle hooks. If a shark is caught accidentally from a boat, avoid bringing it onto the vessel whenever possible in order to release it, but rather cut the line as close to the shark’s mouth as can be safely done.
Violation of the new law will be a misdemeanor, but with significant penalties:
- $500 for a first offense;
- $2,000 for a second offense; and
- $10,000 for a third or subsequent offense.
- a civil fine not exceeding $10,000 per offense.
- an administrative fine of no more than $10,000 for each shark captured or entangled, whether alive or dead;
- seizure and forfeiture of any captured sharks or any part or product therefrom, commercial marine license, vessel, and fishing equipment.
- assessment of administrative fees and costs, and attorney’s fees and costs.