Gov. Neil Abercrombie approved a set of new rules on Saturday that restrict fishing on the west side of the Big Island.
The rules ban spearfishing with scuba gear, impose new restrictions on aquarium fishing, revise the boundaries of the fisheries management area off of Puako and limit the number of certain species that can be caught.
The rules have been in the works for 10 years, spanning three administrations.
The Board of Land and Natural Resources voted in favor of the rules last June, but it took six months for Abercrombie to finally come to a decision on whether to sign-off on them.
“I felt it was important to take the time necessary to consider views from the community on both sides of the issue,” Abercrombie said in a statement.
William Aila, who is the board’s chair and an experienced fisherman, opposed the regulations.
Abercrombie signed the package at an event to honor Rep. Denny Coffman who is stepping down for personal reasons. Coffman was a supporter of the new fishing rules.
From a DLNR press release:
The new rules apply in the West Hawaii Regional Fishery Management Area, which is approximately 147 miles from Upolu Point, North Kohala to Ka Lae, Kau. In addition to making technical changes, the rules:
prohibit take or possession of nine species of inshore sharks, rays and two invertebrate crown-of-thorns predators;
establish a list of 40 fish species permitted for aquarium take with size and bag limits on three of these species (No other fish may be collected for aquarium use);
establish a 1,500-foot section of