The Maui News

WAILUKU, Maui (Oct, 29) - The deaths of a hammerhead shark and a threatened green sea turtle off Kihei illustrate two major problems, predatory lawbreakers and the lack of enough enforcement protection for Maui’s near shore waters.

The shark and two ‘honu’ (turtles) were caught in an illegally set gill net. The shark and one of the turtles apparently drowned when snared by the net. Called curtains of death, lay gill nets capture any and all sea creatures who run into them. Use of lay gill nets around Maui was banned earlier this year.

The shark, which must swim to breathe, may have gone into the net in order to eat the fish that had been captured. Turtles and seals have also been killed when they were caught in nets. Both can drown if they are prevented from surfacing.

In the Kihei case, no one saw the fishermen putting the net into the water. A snorkeler saw the shark and turtles caught in the net. Lifeguards pulled it ashore and cut free the one turtle still alive.

Maui District conservation enforcement chief Randy Awo said the incident shows "how difficult it is to be in as many places as we need to be because we don’t have the resources."

Until the state gets serious about protecting the islands’ natural environment, the public must help. Anyone seeing a large net being put in the water should report it by calling 984-8110 during working hours or by dialing the operator and asking for Enterprise-5469 after hours and during weekends and holidays.

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