Our mahi mahi run should have lasted about 3 months but it started late and ended early. There were hardly any caught in month of December. In fact, the December catch numbers for any fish was pretty pitiful over all but there are a few factors involved here. The current direction acting all goofy was one factor but the fact that there were hardly any boats going out fishing definitely has an effect on the catch numbers. I’m one of the busiest charters in Kona and there were several days this month that I didn’t have a charter even though statistically I should have been pretty busy and when I did go out, I was usually the only boat in my section of the harbor going out. Its simple math, less fishing effort = less fish. Tourism gets busier here during the holidays and that’s happening right now so of course, the catch numbers have gone up recently.
The spearfish have moved in early so there’s some good action on those right now. December is supposed to be a good month for bigeye tuna but it’s actually been the yellowfin tuna and the big skipjack know as otado that have been a frequent catch both in the blind and on the FAD’s. Ono have been scarce and blue marlin almost non-existent.
The bottom bite wasn’t all that great in December either but on many trips this month, it was the bottom bite that scored us some fish.
I know most of you are sick of politics by this time already but if you’re a fisherman like me, you need to know that some new regulations (H.R. 2838) were just signed into law this month. These regulations are for commercial fishermen and though I consider myself a sport fisherman, the State of Hawaii requires me to have a commercial fishing license to run charters so the new laws affect me and most every fisherman in Hawaii also. If you sell any part of your catch, you are a commercial fisherman according to the Coast Guard. In order to operate a commercial fishing vessel of ANY size, you will soon need a NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit that needs to be renewed every 5 years because flushing your toilet or just hangin’ it out at sea pollutes the ocean. You will need a Coast Guard dockside examination of your vessel at least once every 5 years. You will need to carry a survival craft on board that is capable of carrying everyone on your vessel without any part of them having to touch the water. In order to operate a commercial fishing vessel you will need to attend a Safety Training Program where you will learn CPR, basic first aid, putting on a life jacket, deploying and getting everyone into your new survival craft and I’m sure, a whole bunch of things you’ll probably never need to know. The Coast Guard doesn’t even know yet what will be required in the training program or even how they (or whoever) is going to conduct the required classes. I found a time line on all of the new requirements except the safety classes that technically are required NOW. The permit you need to flush your toilet won’t be required until Dec. 2014. The dockside examination every 5 years goes into effect in Oct. 2015 and the survival craft requirement, because of the wording in the new law, the final requirement date will be set in the future but it looks like we have about 3 years before we need to comply. So there’s plenty of time to get ready right? Well maybe. There seems to be some confusion on the dockside examination requirement. It appears that the Coast Guard put the dockside exam rule in effect last October and required it to be done at least every 2 years. That was the original requirement in H.R. 2838 but it was later revised to every 5 years before being signed into law. I got a frantic call from friend of mine who had been out all night fishing earlier this month. He was pulling into a launch ramp in a bay where nearly all the boat traffic is small (average 18’ trailer boats) commercial fishermen. Another small boat coming out approached him and told him not to go in! The Coast Guard was stopping everyone and asking them for their “certificate of compliance”. The guy that approached my friend wasn’t sure what certificate they were wanting, only that he didn’t have one so in the mass confusion going on at the dock, he just turned his boat around and went back out. I knew these new regulations were coming soon so my first thought was for the Safety Training Program requirement maybe but it could also have been the new dockside examination requirement. All I know about either of those is that no one here has a “certificate of compliance” for either. Oh what fun……
See ‘ya on the water ,
Capt. Jeff Rogers ,