Minimum size 2 inch stretched mesh.
Possession of thrownets with mesh size less than 2 inches in or near the water where fish may be taken is unlawful. Unlawful to sell thrownets with mesh size less than 2 inches.
Gill, draw, drag or seine, or other nets
Minimum size for nets generally 2 inch stretched mesh.
Unlawful to leave any gill net unattended for any amount of time.
Unlawful to leave any gill net in the water for a period of more than four hours in any 24 hour period.
Fishers must complete a visual inspection of the entire net within two hours of its deployment and release any threatened, endangered, prohibited, or unwanted species
All persons may use hand nets or scoop nets of smaller mesh to take fish and other marine life for noncommercial purposes only, provided the net, including handle and other attachments, does not exceed three feet in any dimension.
Licensed pond owners or operators may use nets of smaller mesh to take young mullet (pua) to stock their ponds.
Commercial Marine licensees with a Bait License may use nets of smaller mesh to take ‘iao, Marquesan sardine, gold-spot herring, or any other species for which the Department declares an open season for use as bait.
All persons may use nets of smaller mesh to take shrimp (‘ōpae), ‘ōpelu, and makiawa.
All persons using surround nets with SCUBA may use nets of not less than one and one-half inches to bag and transport fish captured with legal gear to the shore or boat.
See provisions relating to the taking of akule (halalū) and nehu, and provisions affecting particular areas.
Unlawful for any person without a valid commercial marine license to take akule with any net that has less than 2-3/4″ stretched mesh, except landing nets as indicated below.
Unlawful for any person without a valid commercial marine license to take akule using the bag net fishing method.
Unlawful for any commercial marine licensee to take akule while using:
- lay net fishing method with net that has less than 2-3/4″ stretched mesh;
- surround net fishing method with net that has less than 2-1/2″ stretched mesh;
- bag net fishing method with net that has less than 1-1/2″ stretched mesh.
Unlawful for any commercial marine licensee to keep akule in a bag net in the ocean for more than 3 days without notifying the department, explaining the reasons, and when the bag net will be removed. Immediate removal may be required if necessary to prevent waste of akule or alleviate public safety risk.
Use of landing nets of any mesh size is permitted, provided the opening of the landing net is less than 4 feet in any dimension, excluding handle.
Use of throw nets with mesh of two inches or greater is permitted.
HAR 13-75, HAR 13-95
Possession or use of drift gill nets prohibited in State waters.
Minimum mesh size 2¾ inch stretched mesh; maximum net length 125 feet, maximum net height 7 feet.
Permits and identification
Unlawful to possess or use a lay net without first obtaining a lay net permit. Fee: Hawai‘i residents no charge, non-residents $25, duplicate $10.
Nets must be tagged as specified, attached at each end of the float line and the lead line (at least four attachment points per net). Each tag must legibly display the permit number of the person possessing or using the net.
Unlawful to falsely identify (tag) any lay net.
Nets must be marked by surface buoys as specified; buoys shall legibly display the permit number of the person using the net, be marked with reflective tape, and be visible above the surface of the water. Buoys must be attached to each end of the float line (two buoys per net).
Link to lay net rules FAQ and lay net marking directions.
Lay nets may not be used during the period from ½ hour after sunset to ½ hour before sunrise.
Unlawful to fish with more than one lay net at a time.
Unlawful to leave a lay net unattended for any amount of time.
Lay nets must be inspected completely within 2 hours after the beginning of the set. All threatened, endangered, prohibited, or unwanted species must be released.
Lay nets may not be used for more than 4 hours during any set. The same person may not set another lay net within 24 hours after the end of a set.
Lay nets may not be used in water more than 25 feet deep, except that commercial marine licensees may use lay nets in water up to 80 feet deep.
Unlawful to use a lay net within 250 feet of another lay net.
Multi-panel lay nets are prohibited.
Unlawful to retrieve a lay net in a manner that causes any stony coral to break from its attachment to the bottom, or into smaller pieces. No stony coral may be brought to the surface in the net.
Unlawful to discard, abandon, or leave any lay net, or portion thereof, in the water for longer than 4 hours.
Lay nets may not be used in freshwater streams or stream mouths.
Unlawful to use lay nets within 3 miles of the shoreline around the entire island of Maui, and in the following waters off O‘ahu: Kawaihoa Pt. to Keahi Pt.; Mōkapu Pt. to Wailea Pt.; Kāne‘ohe Bay between the sampan and ship channels.
Moloka‘i special rules
Maximum net length 750 feet when set end-to-end, maximum net height 7 feet; minimum size 2-3/4 inches stretched mesh.
Net users must first obtain a lay net permit from the department.
Net users must attach at least 4 identification tags to each lay net as specified. Each tag must legibly display the permit number(s) of the person(s) using the net. At least one tag must be attached at each end of both the float and lead lines for a total of at least 4 attachment points per net.
Nets must be marked with at least 2 surface buoys, one at each end; buoys must display the permit number(s) of the person(s) using the net, be marked with reflective tape, and be large enough to be visible to the naked eye from a distance of 1,320 feet.
Lay nets may not be set for more than 12 hours during any one set. The same person may not set another lay net within 24 hours after ending the set.
Lay nets may not be set within 1,320 feet of another lay net already set.
Lay nets must be inspected at least twice along the entire length during the set. All unwanted, prohibited, threatened or endangered species must be released.
HAR 13-75-12.4, HAR 13-75-12.5
Minimum mesh size: Netting – stretched mesh 2 inches; Rigid material – 2 inches by 1 inch. Entrance cones for traps have no minimum mesh size. Traps for shrimp and ‘ōpae have no minimum mesh size.
Traps must be portable and not exceed 10 feet in length or 6 feet in height or width.
Any person with facilities for keeping live fish in reasonably good health may apply for an Aquarium Fish Permit to legally use fine mesh traps or nets (other than thrownets) for taking certain aquatic life.
Note: Due to a series of Court rulings, DAR has ceased issuing any aquarium permits for the use of fine mesh nets and traps to take marine life for aquarium purposes.
Noncommercial aquarium fish collectors may collect marine life for personal aquarium use, provided legal gear is used. Legal gear includes fine mesh scoop nets or hand nets that do not exceed three feed in any dimension (including the handle).
HAR 13-75, HRS 188-31
O‘ahu aquarium fishing
Unlawful, within three nautical miles of the O‘ahu shoreline, while possessing a small mesh net authorized under a commercial or recreational aquarium fish permit:
a) effective July 1, 2015, 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;
b) to take or possess any ornate butterflyfish, oval butterflyfish, or reticulated butterflyfish.
Unlawful, within three nautical miles of the O‘ahu shoreline, while possessing a small mesh net authorized under a commercial aquarium fish permit:
a) to possess a small mesh net and take or possess a daily bag limit of more than:
- 100 yellow tang, 75 kole, 50 Potter’s angel, 50 naso tang, 25 Moorish idol, or 10 Achilles tang;
- six of any of the following: yellow tang less than 1.5 inches in length, yellow tang more than 5 inches in length, kole more than 5 inches in length, cleaner wrasse of any size;
- two bandit (banded) angelfish more than 5.5 inches in length;
b) to operate a vessel with more than the above daily bag limits for the number of permittees on board, or more than three times the number of any bag limit, regardless of the number of permittees on board.
Total length of a “bullpen” trap may not exceed 2,000 feet (including the length of the guide(s) and pen), and total soak time may not exceed 16 hours. Bullpen traps must be set more than 1,000 yards from shore, except on Moloka‘i where they may be set beyond 500 yards from shore west of Kaunakakai Wharf, and beyond 200 yards from shore east of Kaunakakai Wharf.
Unlawful to discard or otherwise dispose of any fishing net, trap, or gear, or parts thereof, in the waters of the State.
Firearms and spears
Fishing with spears allowed for all fishes, but must follow minimum size for spearing of certain species, closed seasons and other restrictions. Unlawful to spear any crustacean (except introduced freshwater prawn), turtle or aquatic mammal at any time.
Unlawful to pursue, take or kill any fish, crustacean, mollusk, turtle, or marine mammal with firearms, except tuna and billfish that have been gaffed.
HAR 13-75, HRS 188-23