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Hawaii Fish Trap Fishery

Current Classification on the 2017 LOF

Category III
Estimated Number of Participants 9
Target Species Various fish species
Applicable Take Reduction Plans None
Observer Coverage Not observed
Marine Mammal Species/Stocks Killed or Injured None Documented

^ Number of participants estimates are based on state and federal fisheries permit data.  The estimated number of participants is expressed in terms of the number of active participants in the fishery, when possible.  If this information is not available, the estimated number of vessels or persons licensed for a particular fishery is provided.  If no recent information is available on the number of participants, then the number from the most recent LOF is used.  NMFS acknowledges that, in some cases, these estimations may be inflating actual effort.  

*Observer coverage levels include the latest information reported in the most current final Stock Assessment Report (SAR)

(1) Indicates the stock or species is driving the classification of the fishery 

Note: Current classification based on final LOF, no proposed changes are reflected in this table.

Basis for Current Classification: No mortalities or serious injuries of marine mammal have been documented in this fishery. From 2008-2012, four humpback whales were reported as entangled in Hawaii trap/pot gear (Bradford and Lyman 2015). However, none of these have been attributed to the Hawaii fish trap fishery. Based on an evaluation of information available at this time, there is a remote likelihood of marine mammal serious injuries or mortalities in this fishery.

Distribution: Fishing can occur in both state and federal waters. Fish traps are generally set in shallower waters (< 100 ft). In 2013, there were 212 fish trap trips, though some trips involved using one or more trap methods.

Gear Description: Trap fishing includes fishing with any of various fishing devices made into the shape of a box, container, or enclosure, with one or more openings that allow marine life to get inside but keep them from leaving.

Management:  The fishery is monitored and managed by the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources/Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), NMFS, and the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council, as appropriate. In general, fisheries are managed for the species harvested rather than by gear, but in some cases there are specific management measures for particular gear types or methods.

The Fishery Ecosystem Plan (FEP) for the Hawaii Archipelago and implementing regulations under 50 CFR 665.220 through 665.239 include a list of allowable gear and methods for harvesting Hawaii coral reef ecosystem management unit species (MUS) in the FEP management area (U.S. EEZ, outside of state waters). Use of gear or a method not listed as allowable requires a special permit pursuant to 50 CFR 665.224(1)(iii). Fish traps are listed as an allowable gear to harvest Hawaii coral reef MUS in federal waters, but they must have a vessel ID number affixed.

The Council recommends and NMFS approves annual catch limits (ACLs) for most coral reef MUS, so species harvested using fish traps may be subject to ACLs.

A commercial marine license issued by DAR is required for all commercial fishing activities. This fishery corresponds to the following fishing method(s) defined by DAR: trap/trap fishing (fish trap). Hawaii Administrative Rules specify a minimum mesh size for traps: netting must be a minimum of 2 inches stretched mesh, and rigid material must be a minimum of 2 inches by 1 inch. Entrance cones for traps have no minimum mesh size. Traps must be portable and not exceed 10 feet in length or 6 feet in height or width.

Historical Information

Original Category (Year added to the LOF) III (1996)
Original Number of Participants 19
Basis for Original Classification

Fishery added to the LOF as Category III fishery in 1996 with no details given.

Past Names

Four separate trap fisheries (“HI crab trap,” “HI fish trap,” “HI lobster trap,” and “HI shrimp trap”) until 2015.

Species/stocks historically documented as killed or injured (but not currently on the list) N/A


Timeline of Changes

  • Estimated number of participants increased from 5 to 9
  • Estimated number of participants decreased from 9 to 5
  • Estimated number of participants decreased from 13 to 9.
  • Estimated number of participants increased from 11 to 13.
  • Estimated number of participants decreased from 19 to 11.



Bradford, A.L. and E. Lyman. 2015.  Injury determinations for humpback whales and other cetaceans reported to NOAA Response Networks in the Hawaiian Islands during 2007-2012. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOAA-TM-NMFS-PIFSC-45. 29 p.

Updated June 19, 2017