can you keep the fish you catch in hawaii

Can You Keep The Fish You Catch In Hawaii? Know The Rules

Picture this: you’re in beautiful Hawaii, casting a line into the clear waters and reeling in an awesome catch under the warm sun.

Sounds great, right? But you might be wondering “can I actually keep the fish I catch during my amazing adventure here?”

In this article, we’re going to walk you through the ins and outs of Hawaii’s fishing regulations, including size limits, catch restrictions, and designated fishing areas.

Can You Keep The Fish That You Catch in Hawaii?

The short answer is YES, as long as you follow certain regulations.

Fishing in publicly-accessible areas is generally allowed, unless prohibited or restricted.

It is unlawful to take or possess undersized or out-of-season fish, even if it dies before release.

Recreational collection of aquatic life for personal home aquariums is permitted, but restrictions may apply in certain areas.

You can transport aquatic life collected for your home aquarium out of state, but check for any restrictions and requirements.

You don’t need a license or permit to collect aquatic life for your home aquarium, but regulations such as size limits and bag limits still apply.

Bottom fishing boats on Maui allow you to keep the fish you catch, except for grouper due to ciguatera toxin and the absence of halibut.

Anything caught while sport fishing belongs to the charter company, but they usually fillet a portion for their clients and may give it all upon request.

Most captains prefer catch-and-release for billfish like blue marlin, but some may boat them for photo opportunities and smoking.

Some restaurants may prepare your fish for you, but it’s best to ask the captain for recommendations.

Maui doesn’t have canneries or specific shipping services for perishable fish, so if you want to ship your catch, you’ll have to pack and ship it yourself.

Fishing Regulations in Hawaii

License Requirements

A marine recreational fishing license is required for all non-Hawaii residents to fish from the shoreline or a boat in Hawaiian waters.

Freshwater game fishing requires a license obtained through the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Their fees are:

  • Senior – $1.00
  • Minor – $4.00
  • Resident – $6.00
  • 7-day Tourist – $11.00
  • 30-day Tourist – $21.00
  • Non-Resident – $26.00

You can read more about freshwater fishing license here.

Get freshwater fishing license online here or you can choose to get it from an authorized license agent.

Fishing licenses are not required for marine recreational fishing in Hawaii.

Rules and Restrictions

Fishing in publicly-accessible areas is generally allowed, unless prohibited or restricted.

It is unlawful to take or possess undersized or out-of-season fish, even if it dies before release.

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Accidentally catching a shark is not a violation as long as it’s released immediately.

If you can’t identify the aquatic life you intend to take, it’s better not to take it to avoid potential violations.

Snagging is generally allowed, but specific areas may prohibit it.

Recreational collection of aquatic life for personal home aquariums is permitted, but restrictions may apply in certain areas.

Commercial collection of aquatic life for aquariums is not permitted.

Nets with a stretched mesh of less than 2 inches are generally prohibited, but hand nets or scoop nets can be used for non-commercial purposes.

Transportation of Fish

Meat, seafood and other non-liquid food items are permitted in both checked bags and carry-on (if you follow special instructions).

Frozen perishables can be packed in carry-on or checked bags in dry ice.

The FAA limits you to five pounds of dry ice that is properly packaged and marked.

If the food is packed with ice or ice packs in a cooler or other container, the ice or ice packs must be completely frozen when brought through screening.

Island Specific Fishing Rules and Information

Each island in Hawaii has its own specific set of fishing rules and regulations, and it’s important to plan accordingly.

Lake Wilson in Oahu is a popular freshwater fishing spot known for peacock bass and other species.

Nawiliwili Harbor in Kauai is a recommended location for sport fishing and deep-sea fishing, offering species such as marlin, mahi-mahi, yellowfin tuna, and wahoo.

The World War II memorial at Pearl Harbor provides productive fishing opportunities, including goatfish, ladyfish, greenjack, and game fish like tuna, mahi-mahi, marlin, and swordfish.

Waiakea Pond in Wailoa River State Park (Big Island) and Waialua Bay Pier in Haleiwa Alii Beach Park (Oahu) are unique spots for fishing, each with its own set of species and fishing experiences.

Hawaii’s marine life is not only diverse and abundant, but it also holds significant cultural importance for the local population.

As a responsible angler, you must familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations that protect these precious resources while still allowing for sustainable fishing practices. Regulations can vary depending on the island or specific area that you are fishing in, and the rules exist to protect Hawaii’s marine life and cultural heritage.

Read more about fishing regulation at DLNR’s website

Respecting Size and Catch Limits

Please adhere to size and catch limits while fishing in Hawaii to ensure a sustainable experience for all anglers, and maintain healthy populations and ecosystem.

Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) sets these regulations to protect various species from overfishing and ensure their long-term survival.

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Before you cast your line, familiarize yourself with the specific size and catch limits for the area you’ll be fishing in, and always follow these guidelines to contribute to the conservation efforts.

To practice catch responsibility, educate yourself on the regulated species and their corresponding size and catch limits, which can be found on the DAR website or by contacting local fishing authorities.

Some common regulated species include uhu (parrotfish), kumu (goatfish), and moi (threadfin), among others. Pay attention to the minimum size limits, maximum size limits, and bag limits, as these restrictions vary by species and location.

In addition to size awareness, be mindful of closed seasons for certain species, which are designated to protect their spawning and reproductive cycles.

Abiding by Designated Fishing Areas

Make sure to always stick to designated fishing areas, as this not only ensures a better experience for everyone but also plays a vital role in marine conservation. Abiding by these areas is crucial in maintaining the delicate balance of Hawaii’s marine ecosystem.

Some Designated Fishing Areas in Hawaii:

  • Fishing in publicly-accessible areas is generally allowed, unless prohibited or restricted.
  • Each island in Hawaii has its own specific set of fishing rules and regulations.
  • Lake Wilson in Oahu is a popular freshwater fishing spot known for peacock bass and other species.
  • Nawiliwili Harbor in Kauai is a recommended location for sport fishing and deep-sea fishing, offering species such as marlin, mahi-mahi, yellowfin tuna, and wahoo.
  • The World War II memorial at Pearl Harbor provides productive fishing opportunities, including goatfish, ladyfish, greenjack, and game fish like tuna, mahi-mahi, marlin, and swordfish.
  • Waiakea Pond in Wailoa River State Park (Big Island) and Waialua Bay Pier in Haleiwa Alii Beach Park (Oahu) are unique spots for fishing, each with its own set of species and fishing experiences.

Fishing in designated areas is essential for several reasons:

  • Marine ecosystem balance: By sticking to designated fishing areas, you help maintain the balance of the marine ecosystem, which includes everything from the smallest algae to the largest predator fish.
  • Endangered species protection: Fishing in designated areas helps protect endangered marine species by giving them a safe space to thrive and reproduce.
  • Sustainable fishing practices: Designated areas promote sustainable fishing practices, ensuring that fish populations are not depleted and can continue to support both the ecosystem and recreational fishing.
  • Reduced conflicts: Fishing in designated areas helps reduce conflicts between recreational anglers and commercial fishermen, as well as other water users like swimmers and boaters. This ensures a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved.
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Practicing Sustainable Fishing Practices

By embracing sustainable fishing practices, you’re not only preserving the beauty and health of our oceans, but also ensuring that future generations can experience the joy of casting a line and reeling in a prized catch.

One way to achieve this is by making sustainable gear choices and understanding the benefits of catch and release fishing.

Opting for gear that reduces the likelihood of harming the fish or other marine life can make a significant difference in preserving the delicate balance of the ecosystem.

Additionally, practicing catch and release fishing allows the fish population to remain stable and healthy, contributing to a sustainable fishing experience for everyone.

Consider the following table that illustrates the importance of sustainable gear choices and catch and release benefits:

Sustainable Gear ChoicesCatch and Release Benefits
Use circle hooksEnsures higher survival rates
Choose biodegradable tackleReduces pollution and waste
Avoid using lead weightsProtects marine life
Use non-invasive luresMinimizes harm to fish

By choosing the appropriate gear and practicing catch and release, you’re actively taking part in maintaining the health and sustainability of Hawaii’s marine ecosystems.

Remember, the future of fishing in Hawaii depends on the actions and decisions of today’s anglers. So, do your part to preserve this incredible resource for generations to come.

Other Considerations

  1. Familiarize yourself with Hawaii’s fishing laws and regulations to ensure a responsible and enjoyable fishing experience.
  2. Acquire the necessary licenses for the type of fishing you plan to do, such as freshwater, saltwater shoreline, or boat fishing.
  3. Understand and adhere to size and catch limits for specific fish species and areas to maintain healthy fish populations and preserve the marine ecosystem.
  4. Fish in designated areas to protect endangered species, promote sustainable fishing practices, and reduce conflicts with other water users.
  5. Practice sustainable fishing by using environmentally-friendly gear and considering catch and release when possible.
  6. Respecting local customs and traditions, as some areas may hold cultural significance and be off-limits to fishing.

In summary, you can absolutely keep the fish you catch in Hawaii, but make sure you follow the rules and get the necessary licenses. Pay attention to size and catch limits, and only fish in designated areas.

By practicing sustainable fishing, you’ll help ensure that Hawaii’s beautiful waters remain bountiful for generations. Now that you have the right knowledge, go out and enjoy your fishing adventure responsibly.