Fish Resources Gill Nets (Laynets) and Aquarium Collecting

Lay Nets

Problems Associated With Laynets

  • Overly efficient method causing a decline in fish
  • Indescriminant catch and kill of all species (sometimes only 1/15 of catch is usable)
  • Entanglement and killing of endangered turtles and ocean mammals
  • Breaking coral while retrieving net
  • Danger to swimmers and divers
  • Fish spoiled when left too long
  • Attract sharks to shoreline waters
  • Pieces of net tear off and endanger marine wildlife and boating
  • Enforcement of regulations difficult
    • Too few DLNR agents
    • Difficulty locating net owner
    • Time consuming to enforce time limits  
Proposed DLNR Rules on Laynets
Graphical Summary of Laynet Ban Opinions by Island
Quote from Fisheries ecologist Dr. Alan Friedlander of the Oceanic Institute
“Lay nets disrupt the natural rhythms and processes of the marine ecosystem,” he said. “The nets catch the keiki fish, wiping them out before they have a chance to reach reproductive size causing a decline in the fish population. Lay net fishing is not a sustainable fishing practice.”

Quotes From 2003 DLNR Report on Gillnets

What is a Lay Net?
For this discussion, a gill net is a generic term that applies to any net that captures fish by allowing the fish’s head to pass through the net mesh but small enough to prevent the body from passing through.  As the fish backs up, it gets caught when the net filaments slip under the gill plates and prevent the fish from escaping.  The Fish is then gilled within the net mesh. Fish or other marine life that are entangled, but not actually gilled, would also be included in this discussion.  Entangled is when the fish or other marine life becomes caught in the net by its spines, fins, legs, or other body parts, besides the gill plate.  Using this definition, throw nets, surround gill nets, and lay nets would all fall under the term gill nets.

A lay net is a certain type of gill net that differs from other gill nets by the way it is used. A lay net is a rectangular piece of net, with floats on one edge and weights on the opposite edge. The floats and weights keep the lay net suspended vertically while in the water. The net is “set” and left in place for several hours and later retrieved. The set begins when the net first touches the water and ends when the net is completely removed. The net is also known as a set net or moemoe net. There were discussions about whether the definition should also include the pa`ipa`i net, which is the same net in construction, but the fish are chased, rather than letting the fish passively swim into the net

Moemoe vs Pa`ipa`i Nets
A moemoe net is one of the traditional ways that non-commercial fishers use lay nets. The name moemoe net, comes from the Hawaiian word moe meaning “to sleep”. The method involved setting the net, going home to sleep, and returning later to retrieve the net. The moemoe net is considered a passive gear and the pa`ipa`i net is an active gear. A passive gear is one where the user does not work the net and leaves the net in one place waiting for the fish to swim into the net. An active gear is one where the user either moves the net to the fish or chases the fish into the net. The name pa`ipa`i comes from the Hawaiian word pa`i meaning “to slap” because of the slapping of the water to chase the fish into the net. In actuality, moemoe and pa`ipa`i describe the method rather than the gear. Because the main difference between the moemoe and pa`ipa`i nets is the way the nets are used, the same net could be used by both methods. The pa`ipa`i net is not normally left in the water for any extended time, so the two-hour inspection and four-hour time limit would not be reached.

Quote From 1992 DLNR Report on Gillnets
“Surveys…show that restricting the use of gillnets and other fishing gears with high catch rates can dramatically improve localized fish abundances.

Gillnets are an extremely efficient fishing gear that can harbest large numbers of fish expecially when long gillnets (over 500 ft) are set overnight in inland waters.  Although some size selection is possible, fishers have limited control over the species and sizes caught.  When left for long periods of time, particularly overnight, gillnets cause drowning of threatened and endangered sea turtles and many of the fish caught are either spoiled or eaten by predators.”

Problems With Aquarium Collecting
  • Reef fish down over 50%
  • Coral Damaged
    • Broken
    • Bleached (suggesting illegal stun chemicals such as cyanide use)
Yellow Tang

Study of Aquarium Impacts on Hawai’i Fish
Ongoing monitoring of 23 sites along the 230 km Kona coastline of the Big Island of Hawaii have documented significant declines in eight species of reef fish targeted by the aquarium industry.

Smithsonium Article

Big Island Marine Preserve Documents

Capitini et al 2004
Community Based Management
5 Year Report to Legistlature

Reef Degredation

Loss of Coral Reefs May Cause Food Supply Crisis

DLNR Report on Maui Reefs summarizes the problem as follows:

It is very important to recognize that the kind of degradation which has occurred at Maalaea and elsewhere is not just a matter of loss of coral cover. Reductions in associated habitat quality and topographical complexity mean that once degradation is well established, affected reefs will have lower recreational and commercial value, and will support limited fish stocks, to the detriment of all resource users.

The goal of those charged with the protection and restoration of Hawaii’s natural resources must be to prevent such severe degradation from further affecting Maui’s reefs. Given the trajectories of decline over the last 7-13 years, it is evident that substantial deterioration can occur rapidly. If steps are not taken to return conditions to those in which corals can thrive, it is nearly certain that additional reefs will reach the state of Maalaea. Recovery of herbivore stocks may be part of the solution at some locations, but without other steps to reduce land-based impacts there is unlikely to be substantial recovery across the island’s reefs.

See the National Sierra Club Policy on Fish