Sustainable Fisheries Division

Going Fishing: Hawaii

Local Weather Forecast
Local Tides
National Data Buoy Center
FAD Updates
Nautical Charts
Federal Fishing Permits
Federal Law Enforcement
State of Hawaii Fishing Licenses and Permits, and more
Measurement Guide for Nearshore Fishes of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary
Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument
Main Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Information
Western Pacific Fishery Management Council
Hawaii State Fishing Records
Pacific Islands Fisheries Group
Hawaii Seafood
Research and Studies
Hawaii Marine Recreational Fishing Survey
Economic Valuation of Recreational Fishing in Hawaii
The Sociocultural Importance of Spearfishing in Hawai'i
Cost-earnings Study of the Hawaii Charter Fishing Fleet
Island Fishing: Offshore Pelagics Brochure Cover

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Several hundred thousand Hawaii residents and tourists participate in various types of non-commercial fishing annually. The economic impact of this fishing is thought to be several times greater than Hawaii’s commercial fisheries. In 2010, Hawaii non-commercial fishermen caught more than five million fish and took more than two million fishing trips. Top catches by number of fish were yellowfin tuna, skipjack tuna, convict tang, Hawaiian flagtail, and bluefin trevally.

The number of non-commercial fishermen who fish in Federal waters is currently unknown, though there are more than 15,000 boats in the State’s vessel registry. Pelagic species comprise a high percentage of the boat-based catch. Pelagic trolling and handlining for snappers, groupers, and jacks are common. A permit is required to retain some bottom fish taken for non-commercial purposes in Federal waters, though relatively few people have applied for such permits.

Hawaii’s coral reef fishery is mostly artisanal and has low catch per effort, though we know relatively little about the participation levels in the fishery. Of those species Federally managed, the most-frequently landed (by weight) are bigeye scad, yellowstripe goatfish, goldspot herring, and mackerel scad. Hand harvest, spear, nets (hand/dip, hoop, throw, barrier, purse), hook-and-line, and traps are allowable gear types in Federal. Spearfishing is an important component of non-commercial fishing in Hawaii, as perhaps 20% of non-commercial trips involve spearing.

Hawaii’s charter fishing fleet consists of about 195 vessels housed in 10 ports, mostly on the islands of Oahu, Hawaii, and Maui. Nearly 70,000 people participate in charter fishing and tournaments every year. Yellowfin tuna and blue marlin tend to be the most popular target species.

Hawaii has the most developed non-commercial fishing infrastructure in the Region, with 32 small boat harbors and 26 ramps. There are about 13 recreational clubs and at least five fishing-related organizations.