REPORT FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES — The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) will announce the opening of State marine waters on Saturday, September 1, 2012, for the 2012-2013 bottomfish fishing year. The current 2011-2012 fishing year remains open and will close August 31, 2012.

The DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) reminds all commercial bottomfish fishermen that their Main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) Deep-7 trip reports are due within 5 days after the trip end date.  Beginning September 1, 2012, fishers who submit a late trip report will receive a Civil Resources Violation notice.  Each late report will result in a $15 fine.

Because last year was the first in which the trip reports were required, aquatic resources staff worked with fishermen so they could become familiar with the online reporting system for submitting their catch reports.  (Last year, fishermen who submitted their trip reports after the 5 day deadline received a reminder letter.)

Division staff expressed gratitude for the public’s cooperation in submitting the majority of trip reports on time.  So far this year, 75 percent of the trip reports have been submitted on time, within 5 days after the trip end date.

The trip reports for the MHI Deep-7 bottomfish fishery are especially important because the bottomfish fishery is managed with an annual catch target (ACT).  Submittal of the trip reports on time provides Deep-7 bottomfish landings data on a “real-time” basis instead of at the end of the month, which improves the accuracy of projecting the ACT attainment date necessary for closing the bottomfish fishery.  Reporting the Deep-7 catch by trip provides more real-time catch data, which also helps avoid exceeding the ACT that in turn helps avoid any future restrictions on the total bottomfish catch.

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has proposed an ACT of 325,000 pounds of Deep-7 bottomfish (onaga, ehu, opakapaka, kalekale, gindai, lehi and hapu‘upu‘u) in the main Hawaiian Islands for the new fishing year.  The ACT is monitored through commercial landings.

If the ACT is projected to be reached, NMFS will close the commercial and non-commercial fisheries for MHI Deep-7 bottomfish for the remainder of the fishing year.  If the ACT is not reached, the fishing year will officially end on August 31, 2013.

DLNR also reminds bottomfish fishers that when the new fishing year opens on September 1, 2012, the State’s 12 bottomfish restricted fishing areas or BRFAs will continue to remain closed to bottomfish fishing. To review all rules — both existing and amended for bottomfish and bottomfishing — and the locations of the 12 restricted fishing areas, please visit the department’s website:  http://hawaii.gov/dlnr/dar/fishing_bottom.html.

Commercial fishermen who have questions about their catch reports may call the Division of Aquatic Resources at (808) 587-0594.

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