Forklift needed to haul away illegal fish net

HONOLULU (AP) — An illegal fishing net discovered in a Hawaii bay was so large that a forklift was needed to move it, state officials said.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources said the net was found by two boaters in Oahu’s Kaneohe Bay last week, Hawaii Public Radio reported Thursday.

Two boaters discovered the net after their craft became entangled. The boaters said that after they pulled the net out of the bay, the apparent owners chased them to retrieve the equipment. The boaters returned to the harbor and their pursuers fled, they said.

State officials were not able to immediately measure the net, but the boaters said their measurement found 500 yards of netting.

Rules adopted in 2007 to govern the use of gill nets left floating on top of the water to trap fish say they can be no longer than 125 feet. Lay nets are banned within 3 miles of the Oahu shoreline and in specific areas of the island including Kaneohe Bay, where the net was found, officials said.

Maui has banned the lay net method, which a land and natural resources department official said is the most regulated form of gill net fishing.

“It’s because we do have situations where nets are abandoned, or they’re laid out for an extensive period of time, and we cannot locate the owners. We can’t really hold people responsible without knowing who they are,” said Jason Redulla, head of the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement.

A $5,000 fine can be levied for a first offense of catching threatened or endangered wildlife in the nets, with additional fines for each threatened or endangered wildlife taken, harmed or killed. A first offense fine for illegal lay net fishing can cost up to $1,000.