If House Bill 808 is passed by the Hawaii Legislature Tuesday, it will be unlawful to knowingly capture or kill all rays in state marine waters, not just manta rays.

HB 808 also says penalties and fees — they go as high as $10,000 for a third offense — would come if someone knowingly takes, possesses, abuses or entangles a ray.

What’s not covered under the legislation is sharks, even though they were part of the bill until late last week. HB 808 explained that the survival of both sharks and rays are essential to the marine eco-system.

Shark researcher Carl Meyer and his team work to reel in a tiger shark so they can tag it as part of their study exploring how these animals know to come to French Frigate Shoals each year to feed on fledgling albatross. Sharks were removed from a bill calling for protection. Alana Eagle/Civil Beat

But Rep. Ryan Yamane, a lead negotiator on the bill, said lawmakers heard concerns from university researchers and others should sharks be protected. The state Department of Land and Natural Researches would be tasked to come up with rules regarding research.

“We don’t want research to stop,” said Yamane.

The last-minute change came as a big disappointment to Inga Gibson, whose Pono Advocacy LLC advises nonprofits.

“Despite years-long, overwhelming support from a broad coalition of scientists, environmental and native Hawaiian organizations, including DLNR and OHA, the deadly and exploitive commercial interests of shark-‘researcher Kim Holland and Hawaii United Fishing Agency-Long line Association, all protections for Hawaii’s sacred and dwindling mano (shark) were removed from the bill,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that some legislators were misled and lacked the political will or moral courage to pass this important bill to malama both sharks and rays. We’ll be back to fight again.”

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