DEPARTMENT OF LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES
PETER T. YOUNG, CHAIRPERSON
Phone: (808) 587-0401
Fax: (808) 587-0390
For Immediate Release:
DLNR Arrests Five In Chemical Fishing Case
Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) Officers arrested four (4) adult males and one (1) male juvenile for possession/use of a chlorine bleach-like substance to catch fish in State waters off the island of Ni`ihau on Sunday, June 4, 2006.
DLNR - DOCARE officers conducting the arrest were assisted by the Kaua`i County Police Department.
The arrested individuals, all Kaua`i residents, were released pending further investigation. A boat, truck, gear, fish, lobsters and other items were seized as evidence. No court date has yet been set for this case.
"It is unconscionable that anyone would use, let alone even think about using chemicals as a fishing tool," said Peter Young, DLNR Chairperson. "Using chemicals isn't fishing, it is destruction of marine resources, and could pose a threat to human health and safety."
"The use of any chlorine bleach-like substance to take marine life in our ocean waters has a terrible effect on our resources. The seriousness of the offense becomes apparent when you consider the damaging effects that are associated with chemical fishing."
"Every fish, lobster, clam, crab, eel, worm, and cowry shell exposed to the chemicals is killed, not just the target species being fished for, but all other living organisms in the vicinity as well."
"Ethical fisherman would never consider destroying part of a living, productive reef system to take marine resources," said Young.
As an ocean state, Hawai`i's near shore waters are arguably our most precious natural resource, a major source of food and recreation for our residents, and key to attracting visitors.
The possession or use of any poisonous chlorine like substances including bleaches, bleaching crystals or bleaching powders, commonly sold under various trade names, on, in, or near the water where aquatic life can be taken, or aboard any fishing vessel or boat in the state of Hawai`i is a violation of Chapter 188-23 of the Hawai`i Revised Statutes.
This offense is a Class C Felony offense punishable by more than one year in jail, or $10,000.00 in fines, or both. Offenders may be required to pay restitution and may loose their boat and/or gear to forfeiture. Additional charges in this case are also pending.
In these types of cases, illegal chemicals have generally been used in caves and holes, places with lower than average water circulation, so the chemical remains in the area for a long time. In effect, an entire marine ecosystem including coral, live rock, limu (seaweed) and plankton, within reach of the chemical is destroyed.
"It is extremely important for anyone knowing of a person or persons using illegal substances to catch fish to report violations immediately," said Tarey Low, DOCARE Branch Chief on Kaua`i. "We need public support to stop the use of this wasteful and destructive method for taking our precious marine life."
DLNR urges the public to report suspected violations by calling the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement 24-hour hotline at 587-0077 (neighbor islanders call “0” and ask the operator for Enterprise 5469).
If you reach a recording after hours, please leave a detailed message so that someone can call you back.
Callers should provide as much information as possible by identifying the location, the type of vehicle or vessel being used and any license or ID number observed, along with a description of activities, the date and time, and description of suspect.
For more information about Hawai`i's cultural and natural resources, and what DLNR is doing to protect these resources, please visit DLNR's home on the internet at www.hawaii.gov/dlnr/.
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