State marine waters open for the 2012-2013 bottomfish fishing year on Sept. 1, according to the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
The DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources reminds all those who commercially bottomfish that their Main Hawaiian Islands “Deep Seven” trip reports are due within five days after the trip end date. Fishers who submit a late trip report will receive a civil resources violation notice. Each late report will result in a $15 fine.
Because last year was the first in which the trip reports were required, DAR staff worked with fishermen so they could become familiar with the online reporting system for submitting their catch reports. So far this year, 75 percent of the trip reports have been submitted on time.
The reports for the Deep-7 fishery are especially important because the fishery is managed with an annual catch target. Submittal of the trip reports on time provides Deep Seven bottomfish landings data on a real-time basis instead of at the end of the month, which improves the accuracy of projecting the annual catch target attainment date necessary for closing the fishery. Reporting the catch by trip also helps avoid future restrictions on the total bottomfish catch.
The National Marine Fisheries Service has proposed an annual catch target of 325,000 pounds of the Deep Seven bottomfish — onaga, ehu, opakapaka, kalekale, gindai, lehi and hapuupuu — in the main Hawaiian Islands for the new fishing year. The annual catch target is monitored through commercial landings.
If the annual catch target is projected to be reached, NMFS will close the commercial and noncommercial fisheries for Deep Seven bottomfish for the remainder of the fishing year. If the annual catch target is not reached, the fishing year will end Aug. 31, 2013.
When the new fishing year opens, the state’s 12 bottomfish-restricted fishing areas will continue to remain closed to bottomfishing. To review all rules — both existing and amended for bottomfishing — and the locations of the 12 restricted fishing areas, go to hawaii.gov/dlnr/dar/fishing_bottom.html.
Commercial fishermen who have questions about their catch reports may call DAR at 587-0594. For more information about federal regulations or permits, call NMFS at 944-2200 or Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council at 522-8220.