5-month ban on catching bottomfish starts Tuesday
A state board joins federal regulators in an effort to keep stocks sustainable
Starting Tuesday, bottomfish -- onaga, ehu, gindai, opakapaka, kalekale, lehi and hapuupuu -- cannot be caught in the main Hawaiian Islands until Oct. 1.
The five-month ban includes both state (out to 3 miles from shore) and federal (3-200 miles from shore) waters.
The state Board of Land and Natural Resources gave final approval to the emergency closure on Friday, joining federal regulators in the first phase of a multitiered attempt to reduce overfishing.
The ban applies to commercial, recreational and sustenance fishing in the main Hawaiian Island waters. Boats with valid permits for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands will be allowed to continue fishing there, according to the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, the rule-making body for federal waters.
"DLNR believes that this interim summer closure, in addition to modified state bottomfish restricted areas, and in coordination with NOAA Fisheries efforts to curb overfishing, will result in sustainable stocks in the future," Peter Young, director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, said in a release. "I'm hopeful that everyone recognizes that this is a process to help protect the long-term health and supply of Hawaii's fishery."
Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service announced the need for a 15 percent annual reduction in catch for these bottomfish in the main Hawaiian Islands two years ago. Earlier this year, NOAA Fisheries revised its requirement to reducing the catch by 24 percent of past catches.
According to DLNR and the federal Fishery Management Council officials, other aspects to the state-federal overfishing prevention efforts will be:
» When fishing for the bottomfish species is allowed again in federal waters on Oct. 1, the state will continue to enforce its new bottomfish restricted areas, which can be seen online at www.hawaii.gov/dlnr/dar/bottomfish.htm.
» Seasonal bottomfish closure for all state and federal waters in the summer of 2008.
» Changes to the commercial marine license reporting requirements for bottomfishing and new reporting requirements for recreational fishers.
» A to-be-determined quota for the total quantity of bottomfish harvested each year and recreational bag limits for all bottomfish species.