State officials today said a West Hawaii couple has agreed to pay a fine of $76,400 for the illegal harvest of aquarium fish off of Kawaihae last February.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources said Tyron and Kacie Terazono of Kealakekua were charged with the possession of illegal aquarium collecting gear and aquatic life for aquarium purposes in the West Hawaii Regional Fisheries Management Area without a permit.
On Feb. 20, the state said conservation officers, acting on tips from the public, conducted a commercial fishing gear and catch inspection of the couple’s boat, Masako, upon its return to Kawaihae Small Boat Harbor.
They found 550 live tropical fish of 10 different species in the vessel’s hold, along with aquarium fishing gear, including a small-mesh net.
Last May, the Board of Land and Natural Resources heard the case against the Terazonos, who initially requested a contested case hearing. Ultimately, the state said the pair dropped the request, and agreed to the settlement.
Earlier this week, DLNR also announced that all aquarium fishing in Hawaii is now banned unless an environmental review is completed due to a ruling by state Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Crabtree.
Due to an earlier ruling on Nov. 27, DLNR was no longer renewing or issuing new commercial marine licenses, but had been allowing those with existing licenses to continue aquarium fishing. After another motion brought by Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law organization, this week, DLNR said even those with existing licenses can not harvest aquarium fish without the environmental review.