Nine bills on marine protections signed into law
The Maui News
Gov. David Ige signed nine bills into law on Tuesday that will prohibit the taking of sharks in state waters, require fishing licenses for visitors and establish other marine protections.
“On this World Oceans Day, Hawaii again shows great leadership in grappling with the threats and challenges our precious marine environments face,” Ige said in a news release Tuesday. “I deeply appreciate the Legislature’s support of these measures which collectively advance protection, management and stewardship of ocean resources well into the future.”
The bills signed into law include:
• House Bill 1016, which allows the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to issue a single commercial marine vessel license for all people aboard a vessel. Rules and fees will be established by administrative rules.
• HB 1017, which repeals the statute prohibiting the taking or killing of female spiny lobsters, Kona and Samoan crabs. DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources has administrative rules that mirrored the statute and can modify regulations as necessary through the rulemaking process. While there is no change to regulations yet, rulemaking is planned for the taking of female Kona crabs.
• HB 1018, which authorizes DLNR to establish rules for lay net permits for use or possession. This will require annual permit renewal and the ability to withhold or revoke permits for violators.
• HB 1019, which establishes an Ocean Stewardship Special Fund. Some provisions of the law went into effect upon signing, but the user fee of $1 per person will not begin until Jan. 1, 2024. The fee will be collected by commercial ocean operators providing vessel-based activities to passengers or vessel-free services to customers. Depending on tourism numbers, the user fee could generate $14 million to more than $30 million over 15 years, DLNR estimated. Other sources that will contribute to the fund include state land lease revenues (lands, facilities, equipment) under DLNR jurisdiction that are used for management, research, restoration and enhancement of aquatic resources.
• HB 1020, which authorizes the Board of Land and Natural Resources to implement effective and adaptive management measures in response to rapidly changing conditions, such as size and bag limits, closed seasons and gear restrictions when needed in extraordinary situations. The law will go into effect Oct. 1.
• HB 1022, which authorizes DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources officers to inspect coolers or other containers which could carry regulated aquatic life.
• HB 1023, which establishes and requires a marine recreational fishing license for all non-Hawaii residents. Visitors will need to purchase the license in order to fish from the shoreline or in a boat in Hawaiian waters. Charter boats are included. However, the bill requires DLNR to first adopt a rule and licensing system, which could take close to a year to complete. Revenues will help support fishing opportunities and provide state-matching funds for the Federal Sport Fish Restoration Program. Out-of-state fishing license fees will cost $20 for one day, $40 for seven days and $70 for a year. Licenses will not be needed for children 15 and younger or for active military, spouses and children. DLNR has the option of increasing fees, but not more than once every five years, and the increases must be tied to the consumer price index. Nonresident fishing licenses are expected to generate more than $1 million annually.
• Senate Bill 772, which authorizes the issuance of special license plates relating to forest and ocean conservation. Revenues will go toward special funds for forest stewardship and beach restoration.
• HB 553, which prohibits the taking of sharks in state waters and authorizes DLNR to implement the measure. Exemptions include scientific research, public safety and self-defense. The law will go into effect Jan. 1.
“This was certainly one of the most ocean conservation-oriented legislative sessions in decades, and these measures will bring us that much closer to realizing the goals of Governor Ige’s Honomua: Marine 30×30 Initiative,” DLNR Chairperson Suzanne Case said.
The initiative calls for the protection of at least 30 percent of the most sensitive nearshore waters by 2030.