State officials said two men have been cited for the unlawful harvesting of aquarium fish off the west coast of Hawaii island using unpermitted gear.
On Thursday, state Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers cited Tyron T. Terazono of Kealakekua and Wayne T. Newman of Kailua-Kona, who were on the fishing boat “Masako.” A third person was not cited.
The “Masako,” a 2019 Force 24 motor vessel and trailer, and various fishing gear, were also seized as evidence.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources said DOCARE officers had acted upon information they received concerning the illegal harvesting of aquarium fish off of Kawaihae.
Upon inspection when the boat returned to Kawaihae Small Boat Harbor, DOCARE officers found a fine-meshed net aboard, along with 550 live, tropical fish of various species.
Current state law prohibits the possession of aquarium collecting gear, or the taking of any specimen of aquatic life for aquarium purposes within the West Hawaii Regional Fisheries Management Area without a permit, DLNR said.
Breaking the law is considered a petty misdemeanor and can result in imprisonment and fines, while violators may also be subject to administrative penalties.
Under court rulings, fine-meshed nets, the primary tool for aquarium fish, are illegal for the commercial collection of aquarium fish until an environmental review is done. In addition, a moratorium was placed on the issuance of aquarium permits.
Earthjustice recently filed a suit against DLNR in state circuit court, alleging that the agency was allowing the unbridled collection of aquarium fish to continue despite these rulings under a commercial marine license, without enforcing what kinds of gear were being used.