KAHULUI – The Department of Land and Natural Resources and its Maui-based Community Fisheries Enforcement Unit (CFEU) is continuing to carry out success enforcement in north Maui waters with multiple citations this winter.
CFEU officers with the assistance of other Maui enforcement personnel issued 10 criminal fishing citations in November, involving a variety of prohibited activities including: possession of undersize kumu – 1; using a prohibited lay net – 1; possession of lay net exceeding dimensions – 1; using a thrownet in Kahului Harbor – 1; possession of undersize octopus – 1; and, exceeding Kahului Harbor FMA bag limit – 5.
Eight of these citations were issued within the Kahului Harbor Fisheries Management Area. The CFEU attributes many of the violations to an appearance of a baitfish school in the harbor. Fishers eager to catch the small fish for consumption were exceeding the bag limit of 50 specimens per person per day within the Fisheries Management Area (FMA) boundaries. Outside of the FMA it is legal to catch up to one gallon per person per day of these fish for personal use; however, FMA rules are more restrictive.
In addition, two citations were issued to an offshore laynet fisher at Kanahā Beach Park. The individual netted nearly 300 lbs. of various fish, the majority being ‘ama’ama (striped mullet). Laynet fishing is currently prohibited around the island of Maui.
CFEU officers also conducted 11 other investigations, which resulted in nine administrative violations for Kahului Harbor FMA check-in requirements.
The CFEU is a strong proponent of public education and wants to remind fishers that the mullet season is now closed. The annual closure began on December 1, 2013 and will last until March 31, 2014. This is to allow the mullet some relief from fishing pressure while it goes through its peak spawning season and ensure that populations will continue to be abundant into the future. The DLNR says that violators of the closed season restriction can face fines of up to $500, and/or 30 days in jail, plus up to $100 for each fish taken. During the open season, beginning April 1, 2014, mullet must be a minimum of 11 inches in length.
The CFEU was launched in spring 2013, aided by a new vessel – a gift to Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) from Conservation International (CI) Hawaii Fish Trust and Harold K.L. Castle Foundation. The Community Fisheries Enforcement Unit, a pilot project, is the first of its kind in the State of Hawai‘i, and includes a Makai Watch component to enhance the work of the unit’s three DOCARE officers.
The CFEU is working to stand up its first Makai Watch group in early 2014 with the help of community volunteers who will assist with public outreach and serve as the “eyes and ears” for the CFEU. Individuals who are interested in getting involved in this ground-breaking initiative may contact Mālama Maui Nui, an environmental non-profit organization that will be coordinating the first Makai Watch unit. Inquiries may be directed to John de Jesus, Executive Director, at (808) 877-2524 or John@cwdhawaii.org.