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Hawaii Aku Boat, Pole and Line Fishery

Current Classification on the 2017 LOF

Category III
Estimated Number of Participants <3
Target Species Includes aku (skipjack), yellowfin, and bigeye tuna, and mahimahi
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:  There are no known incidental mortalities or serious injuries of marine mammals in this fishery, and there is a remote likelihood of marine mammal interactions because the gear is actively fished and the method is selective, targeting schools of tuna using barbless hooks. 

Distribution:  The fishery as it is currently conducted is based from major ports or anchorages on Oahu Island, out to a maximum of approximately 40 miles from shore. Fishing can occur in both state and federal waters. To protect confidentiality, the number of aku boat trips in 2013 cannot be reported. 

Gear Description: Fishing for aku (skipjack tuna) using artificial barbless lures and occasionally live bait, such as anchovies, herring, or silversides that are mainly used to attract and hold a school close to the vessel. Fishers search for a school of aku by looking for birds that often accompany a school. Saltwater is sprayed on the surface of the water surrounding the stern of the vessel where fishing takes place while a crewman throws handfuls of live bait from the drifting or slowly motoring vessel to attract the school. The spray hides the fishers and leader line from the tuna and in combination with the live bait will excite the tuna into a feeding frenzy. Bamboo or fiberglass poles of 3 – 4 m are rigged with barbless feathered lures. When a fish strikes, the fishers jerk the tuna out of the water, which are either unhooked by hand or flicked off in mid-air, assisted by the barbless gear. Fishing a school continues until the school stops biting or the vessel is full.

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.

In federal waters, harvest of Western Pacific pelagic management unit species is managed in accordance with the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Pacific Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific Region and implementing regulations under 50 CFR 665.798 through 665.819.  

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: aku boat. Specific licenses administered by DAR for the taking of baitfish and nehu (Hawaiian anchovy) for baiting purposes may be required. No baitfish may be sold or transferred except for bait purposes and licensees must furnish monthly baitfish catch reports to the DAR.


Historical Information

Original Category (Year added to the LOF) III (1996)
Original Number of Participants 54
Basis for Original Classification Listed as Category III because the fishery was expected to have a remote likelihood of incidental serious injury or mortality of marine mammals. No observer, logbook, or stranding data were available.
Past Names None
Species/stocks historically documented as killed or injured (but not currently on the list) N/A


Timeline of Changes

  • Estimated number of participants decreased from 3 to < 3.
  • Estimated number of participants increased from 2 to 3.
  • Estimated number of participants decreased from 6 to 2.
  • Estimated number of participants decreased from 54 to 6.


Updated June 19, 2017