Chlorine fishing prompts 5 arrests
State officials seize the boat, gear and catch off Niihau
Four men and a boy were arrested Sunday off Niihau for illegal use of chlorine bleach for fishing, Kauai police and the state officials said yesterday.
The five from South Kauai's Lawai-Omao area put bleach in a plastic bag in a hole in the reef, then popped it so the chlorine would drive fish out of holes and into their gillnet, Kauai police told the Star-Bulletin.
The Kauai residents were released pending investigation, while a boat, truck, gear, fish, lobsters and other items were seized as evidence, a Department of Land and Natural Resources news release said.
"Using chemicals isn't fishing," DLNR Director Peter Young said in the release. "It is destruction of marine resources and could pose a threat to human health and safety. It is unconscionable."
"Ethical fisherman would never consider destroying part of a living, productive reef system to take marine resources," he said.
Use of any poisonous chlorinelike substances near the water where aquatic life can be taken or aboard any fishing vessel or boat in Hawaii is a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Convicted offenders can be required to pay restitution and could forfeit their boat and gear.
Additional charges in this case are pending, the DLNR said.
The DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement 24-hour hot line is 587-0077, or from neighbor islands, dial "0" and ask the operator for Enterprise 5469.
Star-Bulletin reporter Tom Finnegan contributed to this article.