Environmental Court Judge Linda Luke in Honolulu District Court imposed a fine of $205 on July 8, upon a defendant who was apprehended taking undersize papio.  The case stems from September 2015, when a Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement (DOCARE) officer observed the defendant, Konsida Pelep, taking an undersized papio while fishing with a handline in the Diamond Head area.  Upon making contact and inspecting Pelep’s catch, the DOCARE officer discovered six (6) undersized papio.  Papio is the Hawaiian term used to identify juvenile phase ulua, which can grow to over 150 pounds.  The largest of Pelep’s six fish measured nine inches, weighing less than two pounds.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) regulates the take of finfish through administrative rules of the Division of Aquatic Resources. Under Hawaii Administrative Rule 13-95-22, it is illegal for anyone to take papio/ulua under 10 inches.  Commercial sale of papio/ulua under 16 inches is also prohibited.

As with all of DLNR’s minimum size limits, these regulations are aimed at ensuring that fish have a chance to spawn at least once before they can be legally taken.

Violation of the papio/ulua size limit regulations is a petty misdemeanor and violators are subject to fines of up to $1,000 and/or 30 days in jail.  A first offense carries a minimum fine of $100.

“Papio are an important species to recreational, commercial and subsistence fishers,” said Jason Redulla, acting Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) Chief.  “While they’re very resilient to fishing pressure as a species, we can’t have a sustainable fishery if they aren’t allowed to reach spawning size,” Redulla added.

“Fishers and divers have the unique ability to positively impact resources by being selective with what they take.  When compliance rates are high, size limit regulations have resulted in more abundant fisheries, so we encourage the public to take only fish that are above the legal limit.”

For information on state fisheries rules and regulations go to fishing supply stores, or on the internet go to http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar/fishing/fishing-regulations/ or call the Division of Aquatic Resources offices on each island.

The public can report natural resources violations to the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement by calling 643-DLNR.  Callers may remain anonymous.