Senator Mike Gabbard and Representative Nicole Lowen reintroduce bills to protect Hawaii's sharks and rays

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 18, 2019

Senator Mike Gabbard (Kapolei, Makakilo, portions of Ewa, Kalaeloa, Waipahu), Chair of the Senate Agriculture and Environment Committee, and Representative Nicole Lowen (Kailua-Kona, Holualoa, Kalaoa, Honokohau), Chair of the House Environmental Protection and Energy Committee, have introduced companion measures in their respective chambers that will offer greater protections to Hawaii’s sharks and rays.

The proposals would make it a misdemeanor to knowingly capture, take, possess, abuse, or entangle any shark or ray, whether alive or dead, or kill any shark or ray, within state marine waters. The law would provide exceptions, including those for research, cultural practices and the protection of public safety. Penalties would range from $500 for a first offense to $10,000 for a third or subsequent offense.

While Hawai‘i continues to have the strongest anti-finning law, passed in 2010, which also prohibits the possession of fins, there is no law that explicitly prohibits the intentional killing, capture, abuse or entanglement of sharks or rays.

"As apex predators, sharks and rays help to keep the ocean ecosystem in balance, and protecting them from unnecessary harm is essential to the health of our coral reefs. I'm hopeful that this year will be the year that we are able to take this important step." Said Representative Nicole Lowen.

"Sharks (mano) and Rays (hihimanu) are key marine species, important to the resliency of our oceans. They deserve full protection under law from unnecessary killing or exploitation" said Senator Mike Gabbard.

The recent sighting of "Deep Blue", the largest known Great White shark (mano niuhi), off O‘ahu, is a hopeful sign that this may be the year that Hawai‘i's sharks and rays earn protection from intentional killing.

A similar measure, Senate Bill 2079, passed the Senate unanimously last year with broad public support, including OHA and DLNR, but stalled in the House. This year’s bills await introduction and assignment of new bill numbers.

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CONTACT:

Richard Rapoza
(808) 392-0780
Michi Moore
(808) 586-7148

Senator Mike Gabbard
(808) 586-6830
Representative Nicole Lowen
(808) 586-8400