KANEOHE (KHON2) – The state says a 57-year-old Kaneohe man was cited on lay net violations Monday. This happened near Marine Corp Base Hawaii. A man who picked up several dead scalloped hammerhead shark pups and tells us it’s upsetting to see.
Lay net fishing is allowed in Kaneohe Bay, but there are strict guidelines to protect marine life like the hammerhead sharks that are born there.
“I just started finding hammerhead after hammerhead,” said Alex.
Alex tells us he noticed a net stretched across the bay and felt compelled to see the bycatch, or unintended casualties. He picked up 14 and spotted at least 10 more dead hammerhead shark pups underwater. Alex says this happens all the time.
“When you see bycatch like this, that’s just thrown on the bottom like its garbage, it gets to you in a deep way. Anger, frustration, I’m just fed up with it,” he said.
In other parts of the world scalloped hammerhead sharks are listed as endangered, but hammerheads are not a protected species under Hawaii Law. The state does have restrictions on lay net fishing.
“You got to check the nets every two hours no matter what. A lot of these people are not doing that. They leave the net and come back the next morning,” said former Harbor Master Earl Omoto.
On Monday, the state tells us officers caught one of several suspects retrieving more than 1000 feet of illegal lay net. They cited 57-year-old Bryan Okawa. According to officials, Okawa is the same man who used unregistered and illegal-sized nets in Kaneohe Bay five years ago. The state says he was sentenced to 7 days in jail and had his nets seized.
Omoto says he encourages people to practice responsible fishing and doesn’t think the laws need to change.
“People need to change. You can have all the laws you want,” said Omoto. “Be aware that there are going to be hammerheads, especially in the summertime. Stay with your net and walk your net every ten minutes.”
Lay nets must be registered and meet the size requirements. Violations are petty misdemeanors, each punishable with a fine of up to a $1,000 and/or 30 days in jail.
For more information on fishing regulations, please refer to DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources’ website located at https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar.
To report potential conservation violations, call Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) at 643-DLNR.