Beginning Jan. 1 it will be illegal to knowingly capture, entangle, or kill any species of shark in State marine waters.

Act 51 — House Bill 533 — passed in the last legislative session.

Brian Neilson, administrator of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Aquatic Resources, said in a press release Thursday, “We are well aware of how important sharks are to maintain healthy marine ecosystems. We also recognize their importance in native Hawaiian cultural practices and beliefs.”

Sharks in Hawaii waters are protected under a new law, with some caveats. Civil Beat/Alana Hong Eagle/2017

The new law does not apply to:

  • people with special activity permits issued by DLNR;
  • shark fishing for public safety purposes as authorized or conducted by DLNR;
  • sharks taken outside of state marine waters, with required documentation;
  • sharks captured, entangled, or killed for self-defense or the defense of another; and
  • sharks captured or killed according to a permit issued by DLNR.

According to Act 51, the conditions of non-commercial permits for the take of sharks “shall include native Hawaiian cultural protocol, size and species restrictions, and a prohibition on species listed as endangered or threatened.”

Violation of the new law will be a misdemeanor but with possible significant penalties:

  • $500 for a first offense;
  • $2,000 for a second offense;
  • $10,000 for a third or subsequent offenses;
  • a civil fine not exceeding $10,000 per offense;
  • an administrative fine of no more than $10,000 for each shark captured or entangled, whether alive or dead;
  • seizure and forfeiture of any captured sharks or any part or product, commercial marine license, vessel, and fishing equipment; and
  • assessment of administrative fees and costs, and attorney’s fees and costs.

Read more about the new law here.

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