The state Department of Land and Natural Resources will be holding meetings statewide this month and October to discuss proposed changes to gill net regulations statewide.
The changes, if adopted, would encourage more responsible fishing practices to prevent the “waste of marine life” and to promote the ability of nearshore fish to repopulate, the agency said.
A meeting is scheduled to be held at the Wilcox Elementary School cafeteria at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 26.
The proposed changes deal with regulation of mesh sizes, times nets may be left in the water, frequency of use and inspection, maximum lengths, hours of legal use, depth of water for net uses, preventing the use of many nets, preventing damage to coral, requiring net registration with the DLNR division of aquatic resources and requiring tagging and using market buoys, the agency said.
William Devick, administrator for the DLNR’s division of aquatic resources, said “many people in the community believe that the irresponsible use of lay nets has been a major factor in the decline of Hawai’i’s nearshore fish populations.”
Such use, Devick said, has the “potential to catch many fish that are not wanted by the user and may waste this valuable resource. They may also cause physical damage to the reefs.”
DLNR said changes in lay net rules can lead to these benefits: Preventing the taking of small fish and overuse of nets, limiting the catching power of nets, reducing boat entanglements and reducing safety risks during retrieval of nets at night and limiting areas where lay nets can be used, clarifying inspection requirements and identifying lay net users.
The majority of the proposed changes were generated from recommendations provided to the DLNR by a gill net task force the agency convened. Other proposals came from the community.
Devick said the hearings are a “public discussion” on the proposals, and that further changes may be proposed.
DLNR has made no decision on the proposals and people are urged to attend the meetings and to propose changes not yet considered, Devick said.
Persons unable to attend or wishing to prevent additional comments may mail written comments by Oct. 23, to the DLNR’s division of aquatic resources office at 1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 330, Honolulu, Hawai’i, 96813.
Disabled individuals planning to attend meetings are asked to contact the DLNR division offices on their islands at least three days in advance of the meetings. The number for the Kaua’i office is 274-3344.
To receive a free summary of the proposed changes, call or write
the DLNR division office.
The proposed changes may also be viewed online at www.state.hi.us/dlnr/dar.