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Hawaii Inshore Gillnet Fishery

Current Classification on 2017 LOF

Category III
Estimated Number of Participants 36
Target Species Inshore and reef fish; principal catches include reef fishes and big-eyed scad (akule) and mackerel scad (opelu)
Applicable Take Reduction Plans None
Observer Coverage Not observed
Marine Mammal Species/Stocks Killed or Injured

Bottlenose dolphin, HI;
Spinner dolphin, HI

^ 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

The fishery was added as Category III in 1996 based on the rarity of interactions with marine mammals, including one reported mortality of a Hawaiian monk seal in 1976, one bottlenose dolphin reported entangled in 1991, records of spinner dolphins being taken, and one eyewitness account of a spinner dolphin entanglement in 1990 (Nitta and Henderson 1993). No recent cetacean strandings in the Main Hawaiian Islands have been linked to gillnet gear. Three monk seals have been confirmed dead in nearshore gillnets (2006, 2007, and 2010), and one additional seal in 2010 may have also died in similar circumstances but the carcass was not recovered. It was not possible to determine whether the nets involved were being used for commercial purposes (Carretta et al. 2015). No gillnet-related injuries or mortalities have been documented since 2010. Based on an evaluation of information available at this time, there is a remote likelihood of marine mammal serious injuries or mortalities in the commercial inshore gillnet fishery.


This fishery is primarily conducted in state waters, and operates in nearshore and coastal pelagic regions except where prohibited. This fishery operates year-round, though juvenile big-eyed scad less than 8.5 inches cannot be taken from July through October. The gear type is prohibited in several locations throughout the State of Hawaii (see Management and regulations below). In 2013, there were 596 fishing trips that reported using gillnet gear.

Gear Description

Monofilament nylon nets that may be fixed to the bottom or free drifting. The fish are entangled in the mesh rather than being corralled by the net.


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). Gillnet is not a gear type specifically allowed to harvest Hawaii coral reef ecosystem MUS in federal waters.

The Council recommends and NMFS approves annual catch limits (ACLs) for most coral reef MUS, including akule and opelu, which are targeted using gillnets, so species harvested using this gear 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: gill net. Hawaii Administrative Rules prohibit gillnets around all of Maui and portions of Oahu and Hawaii Island. Nets must be registered with DAR. Stationary nets must be inspected every 2 hours and total soak time cannot exceed four hours in the same location. Nets must be tagged with two marker buoys while being fished. Restrictions implemented in 2007 include that nets may not: 1) be used more than once in a 24-hour period, 2) exceed a 7 ft stretched height limit, 3) exceed a single-panel, 4) be used at night, 5) be set within 250 ft. of another lay net, 6) be set in more than 80 ft depths, 7) be left unattended for more than ½ hour, 8) break coral during retrieval, and 9) be set in freshwater streams or stream mouths. 

Historical Information

Original Category (Year added to the LOF) III (1996)
Original Number of Participants 115
Basis for Original Classification

Listed as Category III based on rarity of interactions with marine mammals. There was one reported bottlenose dolphin entanglement in 1991, one reported Hawaiian monk seal mortality in 1976, and records of spinner dolphins being taken and one eyewitness account in 1990.  

Past Names  “HI gillnet” (until 2007)
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 42 to 36.
  • Estimated number of participants increased from 36 to 42.
  • Estimated number of participants decreased from 44 to 36.
  • Estimated number of participants increased from 39 to 44.
  • Estimated number of participants increased from 5 to 39.

  • Estimated number of participants decreased from 35 to 5
  • Renamed “HI inshore gillnet” to reflect location of effort.

  • Estimated number of participants decreased from 115 to 35.



Carretta, J.V., E. Oleson, D.W. Weller, A.R. Lang, K.A. Forney, J. Baker, B. Hanson, K Martien, M.M. Muto, A.J. Orr, H. Huber, M.S. Lowry, J. Barlow, J.E. Moore, D. Lynch, L. Carswell,  R.L. Brownell Jr., and D.K. Mattila. 2015. U.S. Pacific Marine Mammal Draft Stock Assessments: 2014. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOAA-TM-NMFS-SWFSC-xxx. 78 p.

Nitta, E.T. and J.R. Henderson. 1993. A review of interactions between Hawaii’s fisheries and protected species. Marine Fisheries Review 55(2): 83-92.

Updated February 27, 2017