The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources will decide today (May 25, 2012) if a hearing should be scheduled to hear proposed administrative rule changes to aquarium fish collecting and sport fishing in the Big Island of Hawaii’s West Hawaii Regional Fisheries Management Area, or WHRFMA. According to a news story in Big Island Video News, this area was established in 1998 to ensure that fishing is sustainable, resources are kept in a healthy state, and scientific research and monitoring takes place. The area comprises 147 miles of shoreline in North Kohala on Hawaii.
If the hearing is scheduled, several proposals will be discussed, including the prohibition of scuba spearfishing in the area; the establishment of a 1,500-foot Fish Replenishment Area on Ka’ohe Bay that would prohibit aquarium fish collection and recreational fish feeding; and the establishment of a list of fish that would be permitted for aquarium fish collecting. This list would comprise 40 fish species permitted for collecting, including revised bag limits and fish size regulations. A “no-take” list will also be established. The permitting process for aquarium fish collection would require fish collectors to obtain a West Hawaii Aquarium Permit, as well as label nets and containers used to acquire and hold marine species with the collector’s commercial marine license number.