Hawaii Fishing Regulations

The time has finally come to discuss changes to our State fishing regulations.  The meeting is scheduled for November 21, 2013 here on Maui.  This is a sensitive subject for a lot of people, especially here throughout Hawaii.  Bringing together different types of fishermen never seems to go smoothly.  Everyone feels as though their method of harvesting is okay and it’s everyone else that should change their ways.  This is pretty common with any type of change. It’s always a great idea as long as it’s someone else changing.  We are looking forward to some positive and long overdue change here in the Aloha State.


Hawaii is the most isolated island chain in the world.  As a result there are not as many fish here as other parts of the pacific.


Out of the 650+ fish that are found in our coastal waters, about 1/3 of these could be consumed.  Only 26 of these species are regulated.  Out of those regulations, the bag limits are very large and for some, there are no bag limits at all.  This has lead to a steady decline of key species over the years.


It may seem strange for some of you to hear us asking for an increase in limits.  After all, we do fish for a living.  One thing that separates spearos from the other types of fishermen is the fact that we are in the water.  We are not standing on the shore or trolling from a boat.  We are actively swimming around on the reef looking for dinner.  Due to the amount of time we spend looking for fish, we are able to make a lot of firsthand observations.  Over the years, this time in the water has led us to witness the steady decline of fish populations.  Places where fish were once abundant now there are only a few or even worse, none at all.   For those of you that don’t know, Hawaii is the last State in the country that doesn’t have or require a sport fishing license to harvest fish.


Whether you are a resident or visiting guest, you are not required to have a salt water fishing license.  You are only required to have a license if you are commercially fishing.  This may come as a shock to some of you.  Especially if you come from States where everything is strictly regulated.

The proposed changes to our regulations can be viewed here:


It’s up to us to be responsible with what is still available in our oceans.  Even though some fish stocks and fishing grounds may seem okay for now, we need to change our attitude toward these matters.  For far too long we have held on the views of the generations before us.  The truth is that there were a lot more fish back then and therefore really no reason for concern.  After all, we are humans.  And our tendency is to ignore things until they are on our doorstep.  And then when we like to blame those around us for not doing anything.  We go around to our neighbors and friends and ask, “How could you let this happen!?”  The person you really need to address is that one staring back at you in the mirror.


There are many different ways to deal with this problem.  It starts by making a choice.  A choice to do something positive.  Something that helps others.  Not just yourself and your family.  There will always be different opinions on what “helps.”  Don’t let these different views prevent you from doing anything at all.  Just because we don’t always agree shouldn’t be grounds for quitting altogether.  It doesn’t have to be a big change.  Simply take what you need, not a surplus for everyone you know.  Just because you can doesn’t always mean you should.  Being sensible makes all the difference.

There’s no score board.  Don’t do it just for comparison sake or self glorification.  One thing that doesn’t help anyone is being too critical.  Don’t worry about what your neighbor has done or has not done. Just worry about yourself.  The worst type of advice is unwanted advice.  Instead, try to show and lead by example.  We need to work together on this problem and do what we can.


For us, we are a small business on Maui.  We run guided tours and introduction classes for spearfishing.  Some may say that this is a problem.  However, we feel a bit different.  We are simply trying to do our part in helping.  We do that through education.  Educating visitors and residents alike to the delicate balance on our reefs.  Teaching our guests the importance of invasive species removal and selective hunting.  Spearfishing is the most selective means of harvesting fish.  It’s also one of the most difficult.  Through our classes, we have been able to safely introduce people into the underwater world of hunting and allow them a firsthand experience in conservation.

How are the regulations in your State?  How do you feel about these proposed changes?  We would love to hear your opinion on the matter.  From all of us here at South Maui Spearfishing, please fish responsibly and dive safely.  Happy Hunting


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