From the Garden Island: Reef fish proposal would outlaw scuba spearfishing
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) — A proposal is being put before the public
to create a Kaohe Bay fish replacement area that would make West Hawaii
the only area in the state to ban scuba spearfishing.
The idea is to provide increased protection for rare fish species in the designated fish replacement area.
According to Tuesday's West Hawaii Today , a list of 40 species on a so-called "white list" would designate
fish that aquarium collectors may remove within the West Hawaii Regional
Fishery Management Area — an area that spans 147 miles between Upola
and South points.
The idea is to reduce the threat to rare fish
species, as well as ones that could be over-fished and not sustainable
for home aquariums.
Residents can provide input on the list during
a Dec. 5 public hearing at Kealakehe High School. Anyone unable to
attend the public hearing or wishing to present additional comments may
submit written testimony by Dec. 19 to the Division of Aquatic
DAR Aquatic Biologist Bill Walsh said many of the species under discussion have charismatic value.
operators make a big deal about some of these species because they are
unusual, rare and just so beautiful. They will then take patrons over
and look in a cave to see it," he said. "If the fish is snagged, it's a
blow to the operation."
The list is just one of several new
proposals that could be added to the West Hawaii Regional Fishery
Management Area rules. The proposal would establish a 1,500-foot section
of Kaohe Bay in South Kona as a fish replenishment area. In that area
there would be no scuba spearfishing, and no taking of nine shark and
ray species and two invertebrates. An aquarium collectors' permit also
would be required.
Among the amendments are restrictions to
nighttime aquarium collecting, labeling requirements, and net and length
The department is interested in testimony on nine
species being listed as no-take, among them eagle ray, sting ray,
sharks and two shellfish.
"These animals play a very important
role out on the reef," Walsh said. "You need high-level predators out
there — they are the ones that keep balance in the ecosystem."
The proposed rule and amendments can be obtained by calling any DAR office. They are also available online at http://hawaii.gov/dlnr/dar/announcements.html .