Maui News

$5,000 Reward Offered for Information on Hammerhead Shark Deaths

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Hammerhead shark deaths. Photo courtesy: Hawaiʻi DLNR.

A $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the deaths of dozens of Hammerhead shark pups found at Keʻehi Boat Harbor last Tuesday, June 26th.

Officials with the State Department of Land and Natural Resources say the reward is being offered by a group of local non-profit marine protection organizations.

The exact cause of death remains unknown; however, illegal nets are suspected, according to DLNR authorities.


While this case was the first to be reported in this area; there have been a number of reports across the state where sharks appear to have been intentionally tortured or killed.  The DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement is currently investigating.

DOCARE Enforcement Chief Robert Farrell said:

“If a gill net was used, determining the method of use is important. If a gill net was used in the lay net fishing method, this would be illegal. The use of a gill net in the lay net fishing method also requires registration of the net with the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources and the placement of registration tags on the net itself. No matter the type of use, it is important for gill net fishers to inspect their net for unwanted catch, and to release them to ensure survival. It appears that these shark pups were discarded, likely as unwanted catch. If State Fishing Regulations had been followed, these deaths would have been prevented. This was completely unnecessary, and contrary to ethical fishing in Hawaiʻi.”


Inga Gibson of For the Fishes which offered the initial $2500 reward for this case also commented saying: “The intentional death of any, let alone this many shark pups, in one incident is tragic and unnecessary. Responsible fishers who may accidentally catch a shark release them immediately. This is an act of cruel disregard for our sacred marine life.”

“Manō (sharks), are highly revered and respected family members who serve as guardians and ensure balance in our ocean, which supports all life. Anyone committing such a senseless act must be held accountable” said Mike Nakachi of Moana ‘Ohana, a cultural practitioner whose family ʻaumakua is the manō, and who matched the $2500 reward for information bringing the reward total to $5000.

Hawaiʻi is home to more than 40 species of sharks who are key animals to maintaining the health of ocean ecosystems. Many of these species are threatened or endangered, primarily due to over-fishing, the illegal use of certain types of gear, such as gill nets, and marine entanglement. Hawaiʻi enacted the nation’s first and strongest shark finning and products ban in 2010 and continues legislative efforts to increase the penalties for intentionally killing sharks or rays in Hawaiʻi waters.


Anyone with information about this case should call the statewide DOCARE hotline at 1-855-DLNR-TIP , 643-DLNR (3567) or report online via the free DLNRTip app. All tips are anonymous and effectively assist conservation officers in investigating wildlife violations.

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