Victory! Hawaii Becomes The First State To Ban Shark Fishing Making It Illegal To Capture, Entangle Or Kill A Shark In State Marine Waters

A bill passed by the 2021 Hawaii State Legislature banning shark fishing took effect January 1st of this year. House Bill 553 makes it illegal to knowingly capture, entangle, or kill a shark in state marine waters. The new law applies to all shark species found off the coast of Hawaii.

“Our department is well aware of how important sharks are to maintain healthy marine ecosystems,” Brian Neilson, Division of Aquatic Resources Administrator with the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), said in a statement. “We recognize their importance for native Hawaiian cultural practices and beliefs.”

The new law does not apply to:

  • people with special activity permits issued by DLNR;

  • shark fishing for public safety purposes as authorized or conducted by DLNR;

  • sharks taken outside of state marine waters, with required documentation;

  • sharks captured, entangled, or killed for self-defense or the defense of another;

  • sharks captured or killed according to a permit issued by DLNR.

Neilson also pointed out that while it is important to recognize that the new shark fishing ban went into effect on January 1st, the DLNR “still has work to do before it is fully implemented.”

According to the statute, the DLNR may adopt administrative rules to implement the new law, including but not limited to:

  • ensuring that the incidental capture and release of sharks while targeting other species is not a violation;

  • preventing the wanton waste of sharks;

  • limiting gear, such as gill nets, in areas identified as shark nursery habitats.

The department will soon begin the public administrative rule process to implement the law, including establishment of a non-commercial permit for the take of sharks. The conditions of the permit “shall include native Hawaiian cultural protocol, size and species restrictions, and a prohibition on species listed as endangered or threatened.”

The DLNR recommends that fishers avoid fishing in areas known to be frequented by sharks, especially pupping areas.

Violation of the new law will be a misdemeanor, but with significant penalties:

  • $500 for a first offense;

  • $2,000 for a second offense;

  • $10,000 for a third or subsequent offense.

  • a civil fine not exceeding $10,000 per offense.

  • an administrative fine of no more than $10,000 for each shark captured or entangled, whether alive or dead;

  • seizure and forfeiture of any captured sharks or any part or product therefrom, commercial marine license, vessel, and fishing equipment.

  • assessment of administrative fees and costs, and attorney’s fees and costs.

May this be a major step toward ending shark fishing and finning worldwide!

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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