House Bill 2380 would create penalties as high as $10,000 for any person who knowingly captures, harms or kills sharks and rays within state waters.

The bill, from Rep. Nicole Lowen, reads in part:

As ocean predators towards the top of the food chain, sharks and rays keep the ecosystem balanced, regulate populations of other marine life, and ensure healthy fish stock and reefs.

     Sharks and rays are more vulnerable to fishing pressures than most other fish species. They are long-lived, slow-growing, start reproducing at an advanced age, and produce relatively few offspring per year. …

If the food chain is disrupted by a decline in the shark population, it affects the entire reef system. …

Sharks and rays … are also valued figures in Hawaiian culture …

HB 2380 has a hearing scheduled for Friday.


Photo: Manta ray. (KAZ2.0)

—Chad Blair