Recreational licensing, bag-limits coming??
commercial interests lobbying for maximum
could adversely impact charter industry
Conference to be held at Hawaii YC Dec 1st

Special to HoloHolo Hawai`i Ocean Sports News
by Mike House

Believe it or not, Hawaii's recreational fishermen are within a few years of licensing and size and/or bag limits. (1998 HAWAII FISHING REGS)

An international treaty is being formed, and in the very near future, all pelagic (open ocean and migratory) fish that swim in the Pacific within the boundaries of the treaty will be governed by a body known as the Multi-High Level Conference (MHLC). After the MHLC articles are drawn and they have an office established (estimated date: August 2000), their first order of business will be to establish a total allowable catch (TAC) for four species of tuna throughout the Pacific (estimated date: August 2001).

After the TAC is established, some entity in Hawai`i (DLNR or US Fish and Wildlife could be candidates) will be charged with advising all anglers the total number of tunas that we are allowed to catch as a state. After the tuna TACs are in place, Billfish will follow, then ultimately so will Mahimahi and Ono. Commercial catch data is fairly easy to tabulate because there are laws in place that require these transactions to be reported to the Division of Aquatic Resources (HDAR) . However, because there has never been any formal way to measure the recreational catch data (i.e. no licensing requirements), when the quotas are handed out, recreational fishermen can be relatively assured they will receive a small percentage. Obviously, commercial interests will lobby hard for the maximum portion of their share, and since WESPAC is made up primarily of commercial fishermen, they will be prepared to defend their catch quotas.

Presently, recreational anglers are extremely small in both force and catch counts. This is not from a lack of interest, rather, it is because of the definition of a recreational angler. Hawai`i has a very unique social structure (sell fish to cover fuel, etc.) and a strange law (legally, one fish sold a year makes you commercial ) that combined have essentially minimized the impact of the recreational fisherman. In turn, the collective voice in the legislature, WESPAC, DLNR, and with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has to date been very limited.

On December 1st at 5:30 pm, Hawaii Yacht Club will be hosting seminar to disseminate important information to all anglers who fish for enjoyment. The club has an interest in preserving everyone's fishing future by actively educating anglers on the issues before us and striving to promote balance and proper representation in WESPAC. It s up to all anglers to educate WESPAC, DLNR, HDAR , and NMFS on just how big a group the recreational fleet is and also demonstrate the environmental and economic impact it has in Hawai`i.

The seminar is open to all interested parties, there is no charge, and there will be some pupus served. Parking is also free. The format will be a short presentation followed by a question and answer period.


For more information:
Mike House
Sportfish Hawaii
(808) 396-2607

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