Commercial Bottom-Fishing Trip Report Late Fines Begin
By Sonia Isotov
Starting September 1, the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) will require all commercial bottom-fish fishermen to submit their trip reports within five days after the trip end date or risk a new $15 late fee.
Last year was the first year that the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) required all commercial bottom-fish fishermen to submit Main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) Deep-7 trip reports within five days after the trip end date.
Aquatic resources staff have been working with fishermen all year so they could become familiar with the online reporting system for submitting their catch reports, in anticipation the new late fine.
Beginning September 1, 2012, fishers who submit a late trip report will receive a Civil Resources Violation notice. Each late report will result in a $15 fine.
Division staff expressed gratitude for the public’s cooperation in submitting the majority of trip reports on time. So far this year, 75% of the trip reports have been submitted on time.
The trip reports for the MHI Deep-7 bottom-fish fishery are especially important because the bottom-fish fishery is managed with an annual catch target (ACT). Submittal of the trip reports on time provides Deep-7 bottom-fish landings data on a “real-time” basis instead of at the end of the month, which improves the accuracy of projecting the ACT attainment date necessary for closing the bottom-fish fishery.
Reporting the Deep-7 catch by trip provides more real-time catch data, which also helps avoid exceeding the ACT that in turn helps avoid any future restrictions on the total bottom-fish catch.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has proposed an ACT of 325,000 pounds of Deep-7 bottom-fish (onaga, ehu, opakapaka, kalekale, gindai, lehi and hapu‘upu‘u) in the main Hawaiian islands for the new fishing year. The ACT is monitored through commercial landings.
If the ACT is projected to be reached, NMFS will close the commercial and non-commercial fisheries for MHI Deep-7 bottom-fish for the remainder of the fishing year. If the ACT is not reached, the fishing year will officially end on August 31, 2013.
DLNR also reminds bottom-fish fishers that when the new fishing year opens on September 1, 2012, the state’s 12 bottom-fish restricted fishing areas or BRFAs will continue to remain closed to bottom-fish fishing.
To review all rules — both existing and amended for bottom-fish and bottom-fishing — and the locations of the 12 restricted fishing areas, please visit the department’s website: http://hawaii.gov/dlnr/dar/fishing_bottom.html.
Commercial fishermen who have questions about their catch reports should call the Division of Aquatic Resources at (808) 587-0594.
For more information about federal regulations or permits, contact the NMFS at (808) 944-2200, or the WESPAC at (808) 522-8220.