Public hearings planned on sea cucumber harvest rules

Photo: Brandee Kalua

Following the mass harvesting of sea cucumbers on Maui and Oahu earlier this year, the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources has approved scheduling statewide public hearings to adopt new administrative rules to manage the harvest of sea cucumbers from state waters.

Currently, all take and possession of sea cucumbers from state waters is temporarily prohibited by an emergency rule which took effect on June 26, 2015. This rule has a 120 day time limit. The purpose of proposed permanent rules is to provide more long-term management of the sea cucumber fishery to ensure resources will not be overharvested.

The new rules would prohibit the commercial harvest of sea cucumbers for consumption purposes, defined as “for food, medicine, or any other use whereby the sea cucumber is killed.”

Photo courtesy DLNR
Photo courtesy DLNR

Commercial aquarium collection of sea cucumbers would be allowed, subject to the following restrictions:

  • Take would be confined to waters of Oahu
  • Only two species of sea cucumber, Holothuria hilla and Holothuria edulis, may be harvested
  • A person must have a valid commercial marine license and a valid aquarium permit and may only harvest during the open season
  • Limit is 20 sea cucumbers per person, per day
  • There is a total annual catch limit of 3,600 sea cucumbers for the aquarium fishery
  • The aquarium harvesting season will close once this limit is reached

The proposed rules also allow the general public to take up to five sea cucumbers per person per day for personal, non-commercial use.

The proposed rules can be viewed at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar/ under the “Announcements” section or can be reviewed or obtained in person at the Division of Aquatic Resources office on Oahu at 1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 330, from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm, Monday through Friday, except holidays.

The Division of Aquatic Resources will issue a formal notice when public hearings are scheduled.

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