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      Overview

      Fishing rules and regulations have been implemented in Hawaii to protect local fish species and establish larger, more robust fish populations. Specific regulations have also been implemented on Maui.

      Size limits ensure that fish are allowed to reach reproductive size (and produce baby fish) before being harvested. Closed or limited fishing areas enable fish to grow and spill over (along with their offspring) into adjacent, open fishing spots. Closed seasons ensure that fish are not captured during breeding season.

      Hawaii’s Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) oversees the implementation of Maui’s fishing regulations. For a complete list of catch and bag limits, visit Hawaii’s Division of Aquatic Resources

      Maui Regulated Fishing Areas

      Marine Life Conservation Districts (MLCD’s) were first introduced to Hawaii in the 1960’s with the goal of conserving and replenishing local marine resources. Certain fishing activities are limited and/or prohibited in these areas. As such, MLCD’s provide a safe, protected place for fish species to grow and multiply. Non-consumptive activities – like snorkeling, diving, and swimming – are permitted.

      For a complete overview of Regulated Fishing Areas on Maui, visit the Division of Aquatic Resources website.

      Honolua - Mokulēia

      Prohibited activities

      • To fish for, take or injure any marine life (including eggs)except as indicated in permitted activities.
      • To take or alter any sand, coral, or other geological feature or specimen.
      Manele - Hulopo'e

      Prohibited activities

      • To fish for, take, or injure any marine life (including eggs), except as indicated in “Permitted activities”.
      Molokini Shoal

      Prohibited activities

      • To fish for, take, or injure any marine life (including eggs), except as indicated in “Permitted activities”.
      • To feed any fish or aquatic organisms, except for the purpose of trolling in Subzone B.
      • To take or alter any sand, coral, or other geological feature or specimen.

      Fisheries Management Areas

      Fisheries Management Areas (FMA) are designed to protect and conserve coral reef ecosystems and their associated marine life. These areas have specific regulations related to fishing practices.

      There are 5 Fisheries Management Areas in Maui County:

      • Maui – Kahekili and Kahului Harbor
      • Moloka’i – Kaunakakai Harbor
      • Lana’i – Mānele Harbor
      • Kaho’olawe Island Reserve

      Each FMA has specific permitted and prohibited activities. For specific regulations governing each FMA, visit Division of Aquatic Resources website.

      Kahekili Fisheries Management Area

      Herbivores like tangs, surgeonfish, and parrotfish are critical to maintaining reef health. These fish prevent algae (especially invasive algae) from growing out of control and smothering the reef. Removing too many herbivores from the reef can upset the ecosystem’s balance, and contributes to local declines in coral reef health.

      To help reduce fishing pressure on key herbivore species, the State designated the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area with the goal of re-establishing healthy herbivore populations.

       

      Within the reserve’s boundaries, it is prohibited to kill or capture:

      • Rudderfish (nenue)
      • Parrotfish (uhu)
      • Any of Hawaii’s 24 species of surgeonfish
      • Any sea urchin

      The marine reserve is located in Ka’anapali (West Maui), and spans the coastal area from Black Rock in the north to Honokowai Park in the South.

      On-going monitoring at Kahekili has shown that there are both bigger and more numerous fish within the reserve than outside of its boundaries. Overall, the Kahekili FMA serves as an important model for recovering native fish populations.

      Gear regulations

      Certain fishing gear can be extremely detrimental to marine life. If left unattended, nets can snag on reefs and entangle fish, turtles and sharks. The size of net mesh ensures that smaller fish – usually juveniles – are not taken before they reach reproductive size. By using appropriate gear, recycling fishing line and taking care to observe local regulations, fishers can help ensure healthy fish populations for future generations.

      Click here for a complete list of gear regulations

      Draft Nets

      Unlawful to possess or use drift gill nets in State waters. (HAR 13-75)

      Lay Nets

      Unlawful to use lay nets within 3 miles of the shoreline around the entire island of Maui.

      Thrownets
      • Minimum size 2” stretched mesh.
      • Unlawful to possess thrownets with mesh size < 2” in or near water where fish may be taken.
      • Unlawful to sell thrownets with mesh size < 2”.
      Gill, Draw, Drag or Other Nets
      • Minimum size is generally 2” stretched mesh.
      • Unlawful to leave gill nets unattended without visual inspection every 2 hours & releasing/removing undersized, illegal or unwanted catch.
      • Unlawful to leave gill nets in water for more than 4 hrs in any 24 hr period.
      Net Exceptions
      • Permitted to use hand nets or scoop nets of smaller mesh to take fish and other marine life for noncommercial purposes, provided the net, including handle and other attachments, does not exceed three feet in any dimension.
      • Licensed pond owners or operators may use nets of smaller mesh to take young mullet (pua) to stock their ponds.
      • Commercial Marine licensees with a Bait License may use nets of smaller mesh to take ‘iao, Marquesan sardine, nehu, piha, “tabai,” and threadfin shad.
      • All persons may use nets of smaller mesh to take shrimp (‘ōpae), ‘ōpelu, and makiawa.
      • All persons using surround nets with SCUBA may use nets of not less than one and one-half inches to bag and transport fish captured with legal gear to the shore or boat.
      • See provisions relating to the taking of akule (halalū) and nehu, and provisions affecting particular areas.
      Firearms/Spears
      • Spears must follow minimum size for spearing of certain species, closed seasons and other restrictions.
      • Unlawful to spear any crustacean (except introduced freshwater prawn), turtle or aquatic mammal at any time.
      • Unlawful to pursue, take or kill any fish, crustacean, mollusk, turtle, or marine mammal with firearms, except tuna and billfish that have been gaffed, and sharks.
      Explosives/Poisons

      Unlawful to fish with, attempt with, or to have in possession on or near the shore where fish can be taken. Permits may be issued for certain legitimate purposes.

      Traps
      • Minimum mesh size: Netting – stretched mesh 2 inches; Rigid material – 2 inches by 1 inch.
      • Entrance cones for traps have no minimum mesh size.
      • Traps for shrimp and ‘ōpae have no minimum mesh size.
      • Traps must be portable and not exceed 10 feet in length or 6 feet in height or width.
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