Hawaii Division Aquatic Resources

Gear Restrictions

Thrownets - HAR 13-75
Minimum size 2 inch stretched mesh.
Possession of thrownets with mesh size less than 2 inches in or near the water where fish may be taken is unlawful. Unlawful to sell thrownets with mesh size less than 2 inches.

Gill, draw, drag or seine, or other nets - HAR 13-75
Minimum size for nets generally 2 inch stretched mesh.
Unlawful to leave any gill net unattended without visually inspecting the net every two hours and releasing or removing any undersized, illegal or unwanted catch.
Unlawful to leave any gill net in the water for a period of more than four hours in any twenty-four hour period.

Nets exceptions - HAR 13-75
All persons may use hand nets or scoop nets of smaller mesh to take fish and other marine life for noncommercial purposes only, provided the net, including handle and other attachments, does not exceed three feet in any dimension.
Licensed pond owners or operators may use nets of smaller mesh to take young mullet (pua) to stock their ponds.
Commercial Marine licensees with a Bait License may use nets of smaller mesh to take `iao, Marquesan sardine, nehu, piha, "tabai," and threadfin shad.
All persons may use nets of smaller mesh to take shrimp (`opae), `opelu, and makiawa.
All persons using surround nets with SCUBA may use nets of not less than one and one-half inches to bag and transport fish captured with legal gear to the shore or boat.
See provisions relating to the taking of akule (halalu) and nehu, and provisions affecting particular areas.

Akule nets - HAR 13-49, HAR 13-75, HAR 13-95
Unlawful for any person without a valid commercial marine license to take akule with any net that has less than 2-3/4" stretched mesh, except landing nets as indicated below.
Unlawful for any person without a valid commercial marine license to take akule using the bag net fishing method.
Unlawful for any commercial marine licensee to take akule while using:

  • lay net fishing method with net that has less than 2-3/4" stretched mesh;
  • surround net fishing method with net that has less than 2-1/2" stretched mesh;
  • bag net fishing method with net that has less than 1-1/2" stretched mesh.

Unlawful for any commercial marine licensee to keep akule in a bag net in the ocean for more than 3 days without notifying the department, explaining the reasons, and when the bag net will be removed. Immediate removal may be required if necessary to prevent waste of akule or alleviate public safety risk.
Use of landing nets of any mesh size is permitted, provided the opening of the landing net is less than 4 feet in any dimension, excluding handle.

Drift nets - HAR 13-75
Possession or use of drift gill nets prohibited in State waters.

Lay nets - HAR 13-75
Dimensions
Minimum size 2-3/4 inch stretched mesh; maximum net size 125 feet long and 7 feet high.

Registration and identification
Nets must be registered with the Department, and tagged as specified, attached at each end of the float line and the lead line (four attachment points per net).
Unlawful to falsely tag any lay net not registered with the Department.
Nets must be marked by surface buoys as specified; buoys shall display the registration number, be marked with reflective tape, and be visible above the surface of the water. Buoys must be attached to each end of the float line (two buoys per net).
Any lay net in, on, or about the water that is not registered or does not have proper identification tags or surface buoys will be considered contraband and subject to immediate seizure by the Department.
Registered owners are responsible for any lay net that is lost, destroyed, sold, traded, stolen, given away, or otherwise no longer their property or in their possession until a report is filed with and confirmed by the Department.

Fishing
Lay nets may not be used during the period from 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise.
Unlawful to fish with more than one lay net at a time.
Unlawful to leave a lay net unattended for more than 1/2 hour.
Lay nets must be inspected completely within 2 hours after the beginning of the set. All threatened, endangered, prohibited, or unwanted species must be released.
Lay nets may not be used for more than 4 hours during any set. After the end of one set, the same lay net may not be used again within 24 hours.
The same person may not set another lay net within 24 hours after the end of a set.
Lay nets may not be used in water more than 25 feet deep, except that commercial marine licensees may use lay nets in water up to 80 feet deep.
Unlawful to use a lay net within 250 feet of another lay net.
Multi-panel lay nets are prohibited.
Unlawful to retrieve a lay net in a manner that causes any stony coral to break from its attachment to the bottom, or to break into smaller pieces. No stony coral may be brought to the surface in the net.
Unlawful to discard, abandon, or leave any lay net, or portion thereof, in the water for longer than 4 hours.
Lay nets may not be used in freshwater streams or stream mouths.

Prohibited areas
Unlawful to use lay nets within 3 miles of the shoreline around the entire island of Maui, and in the following waters off O`ahu: Kawaihoa Pt. to Keahi Pt.; Mokapu Pt. to Wailea Pt.; Kane`ohe Bay between the sampan and ship channels.

map of no lay net areas Oahu

Moloka`i special rules
Maximum net size 750 feet long and 7 feet high; minimum size 2-3/4 inches stretched mesh.
Nets must be registered with the department, and tagged as specified.
Nets must be marked with at least 2 surface buoys at each end; buoys must display the registration number, be marked with reflective tape, and be large enough to be visible to the naked eye from a distance of 1,320 feet.
Lay nets may not be set for more than 12 hours, and once finished, cannot be used again for at least 24 hours.
Lay nets may not be set within 1,320 feet of another lay net already set.
Lay nets must be inspected at least twice along the entire length during the set. All unwanted, prohibited, threatened or endangered species must be released.

Traps - HAR 13-75
Minimum mesh size: Netting - stretched mesh 2 inches; Rigid material - 2 inches by 1 inch. Entrance cones for traps have no minimum mesh size. Traps for shrimp and `opae have no minimum mesh size.
Traps must be portable and not exceed 10 feet in length or 6 feet in height or width.

Aquarium purposes - HAR 13-75, HRS 188-31
Any person with facilities for keeping live fish in reasonably good health may apply for an Aquarium Fish Permit to legally use fine mesh traps or nets (other than thrownets) for taking certain aquatic life.
Noncommercial aquarium fish collectors are limited to a combined total of 5 fish or aquatic life specimens per person per day.

Bullpen traps - HAR 13-75
Total length of a "bullpen" trap may not exceed 2,000 feet (including the length of the guide(s) and pen), and total soak time may not exceed 16 hours. Bullpen traps must be set more than 1,000 yards from shore, except on Molokai where they may be set beyond 500 yards from shore west of Kaunakakai Wharf, and beyond 200 yards from shore east of Kaunakakai Wharf.

Disposal - HAR 13-75
Unlawful to discard or otherwise dispose of any fishing net, trap, or gear, or parts thereof, in the waters of the State.

Firearms and spears - HAR 13-75, HRS 188-23
Fishing with spears allowed for all fishes, but must follow minimum size for spearing of certain species, closed seasons and other restrictions. Unlawful to spear any crustacean (except introduced freshwater prawn), turtle or aquatic mammal at any time.
Unlawful to pursue, take or kill any fish, crustacean, mollusk, turtle, or marine mammal with firearms, except tuna and billfish that have been gaffed, and sharks.

Explosives, electro-fishing devices, chemicals, poisons and intoxicants - HAR 13-75, HRS 188-23
Unlawful to fish with, attempt with, or to have in possession on or near the shore where fish can be taken. Permits may be issued for certain legitimate purposes.