|This story has been corrected. See below.|
State officials want to impose more restrictions on coastal fishing around Oahu, including a seasonal commercial ban on the popular goatfish and parrotfish from January though April.
But some fishing critics say the state is penalizing recreational fishing people and should focus on banning the sale of reef fish at the market.
"Don’t penalize the guys who want to go out and fish and support our economy," boat captain Robert "Tiger" St. Romain said. "Put a moratorium on selling the fish, not on catching these fish."
Public meetings about fishing limits are taking place on Oahu in early July, as the state Board of Land and Natural Resources decides whether to hold public hearings on the proposal.
The meetings are scheduled in Kaneohe at Benjamin Parker Elementary School cafeteria on Friday, at Mililani High School cafeteria on July 13, and in Honolulu at Stevenson Middle School cafeteria on July 15. The meetings start at 6 p.m.
Some fishermen said the state needs to pay more attention to enforcing the rules.
"They got all these regulations but they’re not enforcing them. It doesn’t make sense," said Tab Terayama, owner of Nanko Fishing Supply Inc. "We have people call up because they witness illegal fishing activity but nothing’s being done."
State conservation officials said the new rules are being proposed because of reduced annual commercial catches of various species, indicating a reduction in stock.
For instance, state aquatic biologist Alton Miyasaka said the annual per-trip catch rate from 2003 to 2009 for the kumu fish family has gone from 7.5 pounds to 6.5 pounds.
"This is part of a long-term trend. … We’ve seen declines," Miyasaka said.
Currently, the state has no bag limit or closed season for kumu and the minimum size is now 10 inches for commercial and noncommercial catch.
Under the proposal, the minimum size for kumu would be increased to 12 inches for noncommercial catch, while the commercial size would remain at 10, and a bag limit of two would be imposed on noncommercial catches.
The state now has no bag limit on parrotfish but wants to impose a bag limit of two on the Hawaiian species palukaluka and uliuli and a total family parrotfish limit of five for noncommercial. No bag commercial limit would be imposed.
In addition, the state proposes banning catches of blue parrotfish males for palukaluka and uliuli species in commercial and noncommercial fishing.
State officials want to increase the size limit on parrotfish from 12 to 14 inches in noncommercial fishing but keep it at 12 inches for businesses.
Officials currently have a bag limit of 20 for white species in the jack family for noncommercial, no bag limit for commercial, and limits size catches to 10 inches for genus Caranz and Carangoides for noncommercial. The size limit is now 16 inches for commercial catches.
For noncommercial fishing, the minimum size for white ulua and omilu, now 10 inches, is being lowered to 7 inches with a bag limit of 3.
The state wants to impose a three-fish bag limit for the white ulua and omilu species with lengths of 7 inches to 10 inches, a five-fish bag limit for those between 10 and 24 inches for the jack family, and a bag limit of two for whites over 24 inches for noncommercial fishing.