Law appears to protect fish, but actually does opposite

Contrary to earlier reporting, HB1653, effective July 1, actually lowers current fines and penalties for aquatic resource violations (“New law aims to reel in fishing violations,” The Maui News, June 11).

Current law allows for up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 per count, or per specimen illegally taken. The new law caps a first offense per specimen fine at either $100 or $250, depending on the statute cited. One would need to be cited for three separate offenses, on three separate dates, to be subject to the current fine of up to $1,000.

Further, the bill allows the court to simply order community service. As for prohibiting a violator from entering certain areas afterward, the attorney general said it is likely unconstitutional, so the bill was changed to reflect that the state Department of Land and Natural Resources may request it.

DLNR has always had the ability to request sentencing recommendations of the court, but rarely, if ever, does so, and can suspend or revoke a commercial marine license, but again, rarely does.

HB1653 is a prime example of a bill introduced for political purposes, appearing to protect our fragile natural resources, but actually does the opposite.

Rep. David Tarnas is the lead obstructor in efforts to permanently close the aquarium pet trade, and killed a bill this session that would have prohibited the harvesting and sale of our coral for trinkets and jewelry. HB1653 was supposed to appease those who question his motives.

Don’t believe the hype.

Rene Umberger



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