State conservation officers continue to monitor waters off Oahu for large illegal fishing nets after several were confiscated in Kaneohe Bay this summer.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources this week reported that its enforcement officer retrieved two illegal lay nets in Kaneohe Bay this summer that totaled more than 1,200 feet long and also removed several derelict net balls comprised of different types of tangled net whose weight can destroy coral reefs as they roll around in the waves.
Last month Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers removed an illegal net in Kaneohe Bay that measured about 220 feet long by 7 feet wide. Its mesh was less than the legal 2 -inch mesh size, with several small fish caught in it. Another monofilament lay net reported off Laie and measuring approximately 150 feet long and consisting of three panels, was also seized that month for multiple violations, including lack of registration tags and soak time exceeding four hours.
In August, officers responded to a report of a large net with floats about 300 yards offshore near Makai Pier in Waimanalo. A 6- to 8-foot tangle of mixed net types was then cut loose and removed and later taken to a net recycling collection point at Pier 38. A DOCARE officer also responded to a report of an abandoned, untagged gill net off Kawai Kui beach park, which was also removed.
In July, a 1,100-foot net was found when DOCARE officers responded to a complaint of a lay net left in the ocean at Hauula. The illegal net consisted of seven pieces of 7-foot wide monofilament mesh tied together totaling 1,100 feet long. It did not have the required tags and exceeded the legal length of 125 feet. The suspects in the case were not located, and officers picked up and removed the net from ocean waters.
Commercial operators and other boaters also retrieved four large net balls composed of mixed monofilament and cargo nets that totaled about 3,400 pounds and turned these over to DLNR enforcement and boating officials at Heeia Kea small boat harbor. Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation staff took the nets to a net recycling collection point.
"The public can help prevent damage to our coral reefs and waste of marine life in our ocean environment by reporting abandoned nets or entangled marine life to DOCARE at 643-DLNR. Fishers can also help by registering and tagging their lay nets and following state soak time and checking time rules," said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR chairperson.
To use a lay net, it must be registered with the Division of Aquatic Resources, have tags attached to show ownership, and measure no more than 125 feet long. Lay nets must be checked after two hours soak time and be removed after four hours total soak time. Lay nets may not be used during the period from 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise. For more information about lay net use rules, go to the Division of Aquatic Resources website, Regulated Gear page, at http://state.hi.us/dlnr/dar/regulated_gear.html.