The Hawaii Legislature finds that sharks and rays “are extremely important to ocean ecosystems,” and so it wants to protect them.
Senate Bill 2642 would create a misdemeanor penalty and fine for anyone “who knowingly captures, kills, or takes any shark or ray within state marine waters and makes it a misdemeanor.”
Exemptions would be provided for Native Hawaiian gathering rights and cultural practices, special activity permits, research and public safety.
“Sharks and rays are more vulnerable than most other fish species,” the bill explains. “They are long-lived and slow-growing, start reproducing at an advanced age, and produce relatively few offspring per year. If the food chain is disrupted by a decline in the shark population, it affects the entire reef system.”
The bill adds, “Protection for sharks and rays ultimately means healthier, more resilient oceans and reefs that are better able to withstand other pressures on the ocean ecosystem from climate change and pollution.”
SB 2642 was introduced by state Sen. Mike Gabbard.
His committee on Water, Land and Agriculture and another panel are set to hear the measure Wednesday.