Hawaii anglers split over measure to ban the use of drones for fishing

Using drones is a new way to fish. Some fishermen like it because it allows them to go where they could never go before, others say that's exactly the problem.
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 6:38 PM HST|Updated: May. 12, 2022 at 10:51 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A state measure that would ban the use of drones in fishing is awaiting the governor’s signature ― and has left the fishing community split.

The use of drones is seen as a modern way to fish.

Some anglers like it because it allows them to go where they could never go before. Others say that’s exactly the problem.

Drones allow anglers to take their fishing lines hundreds of yards out into the ocean and drop their bait exactly where they want it.

“We can get the lines out with drones that we cannot get them out in other ways,” said Big Island drone angler Albert Nakaji.

Nakaji has been fishing for 65 years. He has been drone fishing for the last three years.

“Every time new technology has been introduced, it causes change, and change, always, always, always creates conflict,” Nakaji said.

But amid concerns about lines getting lost offshore and killing wildlife, lawmakers recently passed a bill to ban the use of drones for fishing.

The state Department of Natural Resources supports the proposal, saying Hawaii’s marine life is becoming devastated by over-fishing.

Maui boat captain Jordan Correa is in the ocean almost daily and supports the proposed ban. He said he sees the trash that anglers leave behind.

“We’ve seen a lot of floaters that’s been pretty far offshore, water jogs and all these kinds of other things. Whether it comes from a drone or not, I don’t know what line can actually make it out that far,” Correa said.

“The drone can take your bait or take your line out a lot farther than anybody would swim or anybody would actually throw.”

Other supporters of the bill say hundreds of yards of fishing line dropped by drones can entangle in coral reefs and threaten protected marine life, including monk seals and turtles.

“It kind of litters the waters out here,” Correa said.

“On the reef, it’s stuck because the drone takes the line so far out, if you get stuck, or something happens, it breaks or anything, whatever happens, that line is now so far out that it’s gone.”

Critics of the measure say drone fishing can be done safely within the current fishing regulations.

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