Maui Outreach Event Highlights Marine Life Protection, New Fishing Rules

March 6, 2015, 1:07 PM HST · Updated March 6, 1:10 PM
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Photo courtesy DLNR Enforcement.

By Wendy Osher

An outreach event hosted by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources on Maui will help to educate ocean users about the protection of humpback whales, monk seals, sea turtles and other marine species.  Staff will also be on hand to share information on Maui’s new fishing rules, approved in November 2014.

The educational outreach event will take place on Saturday and Sunday, March 14 and 15, from 8 a.m. to noon at two locations: the Kīhei Boat Ramp in South Maui, and the Māla Ramp in West Maui.

Some guidelines to keep in mind when observing Hawaiʻi’s protected marine life include the following:

  • Sea Turtles: Although federal and state wildlife conservation laws differ in some respects, all prohibit actions that can harm, injure, kill, or otherwise disturb sea turtles without a permit, according to DLNR officials.  That means that feeding or touching turtles in any way is considered a disturbance and is therefore considered illegal. DLNR advises the public to keep a 6- to 10-foot buffer as a best practice for sea turtle viewing. The public is also advised to not touch, pick up, restrain, jump over, straddle, pursue, ride, harass, harm, or otherwise disturb the animals, noting that federal and state consequences apply.
  • Whales: Federal regulations prohibit coming within 100 yards of whales when on the water, and 1,000 feet of them when operating an aircraft. The public can report injured or entangled marine mammals to the Coast Guard on VHF marine channel 16, via phone at (808) 842-2600, or by contacting the Marine Mammal Stranding and Entanglement hotline at (888) 256-9840. Mariners can also report sightings by calling the local police.
  • Hawaiian monk seals: are considered critically endangered.  The crime of killing a monk seal is considered a Class C felony, punishable by up to $50,000 in fines and five years in prison.  A conviction under federal law could result in additional fines and jail time.
Photo courtesy DLNR Enforcement.

Photo courtesy DLNR Enforcement.

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New fishing rules for Maui went into effect on Nov. 1, 2014.  Some of the highlights include the following:

  • Uhu Bag limits: of no more than two large uhu (uhu ʻahuʻula and palukaluka) are in effect.  The new rules also prohibit the take of blue male uhu for the two large species–uhu ʻuliʻuli and uhu ʻeleʻele.
  • Uhu Size limits: are in effect for uhu including a minimum of 14 inches for the large species and a minimum of 10 inches for the small species.
  • Goatfish Bag limits: are now in effect for the popular goatfish or kūmū of no more than one; and moano kea and munu of no more than two.
  • Goatfish Size limits: are a minimum of 12 inches for the large species ( kumu, moano kea, and weke nono) and a minimum of 8 inches for the small species, provided that the take of ʻoama (juvenile wekeʻa less than 5 inches in length) is allowed by hook-and-line only.

Officers with the Division of Conservation Resources Enforcement will be joined by staff from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  They will also have information on the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and bottom fishing rules.

“DOCARE and NOAA have a Joint Enforcement Agreement that deputizes state enforcement officers to enforce federal fisheries and protected species laws. This partnership provides federal funding to DOCARE to help increase public awareness and enforcement efforts in areas of mutual responsibility,” said Jason Redulla, Acting DOCARE Enforcement Chief in an event announcement.

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