Shark fishing is now illegal in Hawaiian waters

Shark fishing is now illegal in Hawaiian waters

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Passed during the last legislative session in the US state of Hawaii, Act 51 (House Bill 533) makes it illegal for anyone to knowingly capture, entangle, or kill any species of shark in Hawaiian waters.

Galapagos shark (Carcharhinus galapagensis)
Galapagos shark (Carcharhinus galapagensis) is one of the many shark species now protected in Hawaii.

The ban does not apply to people with permits issued by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), shark fishing for public safety, sharks captured for self-defence, or sharks taken outside of state marine waters with required documentation.

According to Act 51, the conditions of non-commercial permits for the take of sharks “shall include native Hawaiian cultural protocol, size and species restrictions, and a prohibition on species listed as endangered or threatened.”

“We are well aware of how important sharks are to maintain healthy marine ecosystems. We also recognize their importance in native Hawaiian cultural practices and beliefs,” said DLNR Administrator Brian Neilson.

Fines and fees

Violating the law is only a misdemeanour, but carries a $500 fine for the first offence, a $2,000 fine for the second offence, and a $10,000 fine for third and subsequent offences.

Those breaking the law could face additional fines and fees, as well as seizure and forfeiture of any captured sharks and equipment.

The DLNR recommends people avoid fishing in areas known to be frequented by sharks and use barbless circle hooks. If a shark is caught accidentally, officials say fisherman should avoid bringing it onto the vessel whenever possible. To release it, cut the line as safely as possible close to the shark’s mouth.

Department of Land and Natural Resources