Governor signs bills to protect Hawai‘i’s ocean resources

Posted on Jun 25, 2021 in Capitol Connection, Featured, Main
The governor signed bills to protect marine resources, including protection of sharks (with some exemptions).

The governor signed bills to protect marine resources, including protection of sharks (with some exemptions).

The state’s ocean resources are now better protected with Governor Ige’s signing into law nine bills to mark World Oceans Day June 8. They ranged from criminalizing the intentional killing of sharks in state waters to generating new revenue through tourism for ocean stewardship projects. “The ocean is our greatest connector,” said the governor. “It connects us to our food, culture, leisure, businesses and each other. We need to mālama our oceans in the face of climate change, coral bleaching, declining fish populations and ocean pollution.”

Both the governor and Suzanne Case, director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, thanked state legislators who were instrumental in the passage of the bills. “This was certainly one of the most ocean conservation-oriented legislative session in decades,” said Case. “These measures will advance the goals of Governor Ige’s Holomua: Marine 30×30 Initiative.” That commitment calls for the protection of at least 30% of the most sensitive nearshore waters by 2030 — part of the Ige administration’s Sustainable Hawai‘i Initiative announced at the 2016 World Conservation Congress held in Honolulu. The bills signed into law include:

HB1019 establishes an ocean stewardship special fund, using per passenger fees for commercial vessels.

HB1019 establishes an ocean stewardship special fund, using per passenger fees for commercial vessels.

Protection of sharks (HB 553) – Prohibits intentionally catching or killing sharks in state waters. Exemptions include scientific research, public safety, and self-defense. (Effective Jan. 1, 2022).
Commercial Marine Vessel Licenses (HB1016) – Allows DLNR to issue a single CMVL for all persons aboard a vessel.
Crustaceans (HB1017) – Repeals statute prohibiting the taking or killing of female spiny lobsters and Kona and Samoan crabs. DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources can now modify crustacean regulations as needed.
Lay net permits (HB1018) – Authorizes DLNR to establish rules for lay net permits for use or possession. Requires annual permit renewal and the ability to withhold or revoke permits for violators.

The governor with DLNR director Suzanne Case (center) and legislators on World Oceans Day June 8.

The governor with DLNR director Suzanne Case (center) and legislators on World Oceans Day June 8.

Ocean stewardship special fund; user fee (HB1019) – Provides more consistent support for management of ocean resources through a user fee of $1 per passenger for commercial vessels, such as dive operations and whale-watching charters. (Effective Jan. 1, 2024).
Natural resources rules; adaptive management (HB1020) – Authorizes the Board of Land and Natural Resources to implement adaptive management measures in response to rapidly changing conditions when needed. (Effective Oct. 1, 2021).
Natural resource inspection (HB1022) – Authorizes DLNR officers to inspect coolers that could carry regulated aquatic life.
Non-resident recreational marine fishing license (HB1023) – Establishes a recreational marine fishing license requirement for non-residents in Hawai‘i. Children under 15 and active duty military and their families are exempt. Revenues go to fisheries management.
Special license plates (SB772) – Authorizes issuance of special license plates relating to forest and ocean conservation. Revenues will be deposited into special funds for forest stewardship and beach restoration.
Go to https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar/announcements/aquatic-resources-2021-legislative-wrap-up/ and Holomua: Marine 30×30 Initiative.

Read more in the July Capitol Connection newsletter.

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