The two West Hawaii marine management bills we hoped to enact did not make it through this year's session before the deadline. As you know one bill had a very good hearing in Rep. Cindy Evans committee but never went any farther. But that's okay because there's always next year. For that reason, LOSTFISH will keep a summary of those two bills on this website until next year, when we plan to push them again!
There are two elements to managing fisheries that you would suppose the state had the authority to do because they are such no-brainers: 1) allow enforcement officers to look in the coolers and holds of commercial fishers to see if they are complying with the law, and 2) allow scientists to make some real-time management decisions in case some disaster or catastrophe happens to our reefs or fish species.
Most people would assume that all states have that right, but not the state of Hawaii. Enforcement keeps telling us they can't do it because there is no law saying they can do it. Well, let's put them in place.
The first bill we will recommend would give resource enforcement officers clear authority to search a cooler, live well or other potential fish holding container of commercial fishers within the WHRFMA without needing probable cause that it contains evidence of a violation . At present, enforcement officers need probable cause to inspect a
fisher’s catch, and this gives them very little ability to enforce regulations. It is essential to enforce regulation. “If there is no ability to inspect catch why have any rules?”
The second bill would provide for ‘adaptive management’ by authorizing the Board of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) to enact temporary management measures (i.e., bag limits, closed seasons, or moratoriums) within the WHRFMA without going through the usual lengthy administrative rule-making process (HRS Chapter 91). It also requires DLNR to establish a limited entry program for commercial aquarium fishers effective January 2015, and mandates some key changes to the commercial aquarium catch reporting system.