Judge upholds federal rule that allows ahi fishing over limit - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Judge upholds federal rule that allows ahi fishing over limit

Darryl Mapusaga Darryl Mapusaga
Caleb Savaea Caleb Savaea
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

When longline fishing boats leave Honolulu Harbor this week, they can still catch big eye tuna, also known as ahi, in Hawaiian waters, even though the catch limit was reached in August.

That could have been a major problem, since peak ahi consumption comes at this time of year, as sashimi for Christmas and New Year's parties. That's even the price is high for some people.

"When I go out to the supermarket, $20 a pound," said Darryl Mapusaga, out on a Christmas picnic with family at Ala Moana Beach Park. "That's outrageous."

The price could have been even higher if the supply wasn't there. Longline fishermen are allowed to catch up to 3,500 metric tons of ahi a year in Hawaiian waters. But a federal judge this week upheld a National Marine Fisheries Service rule that allows those fishermen to go over that limit. 

The rule says additional catch limits from the Northern Marianas Islands and Guam can be allocated to Hawaii-based fishing vessels.

The 1,000 metric ton limit from the Marianas was reached at the end of November. However, fishermen have used just 33 percent of another 1,000 metric tons from Guam.

Environmentalists -- and even some young fishermen -- worry that going over the limit is leading to overfishing.

"If they keep on overfishing, there's going to be this extinction going on, and we wouldn't have all this food to each and everything would decline," said Caleb Savaea.

If the judge had gone the other way, it could have shut down the ahi season for the year. However, the ruling ensures that Hawaii fishing boats can still get enough ahi for New Year's sashimi.

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