Three children pose with their fishing poles by the ocean.
Three keiki fishermen pose with their fishing poles next to the water.

Fishing the shoreline of the three ahupuaʻa within the park's boundaries has been practiced by Hawaiian families for generations. Traditional fishing practices that began hundreds of years ago continue to this day. This fishing knowledge has been passed down over the generations making fishing much more than just a recreational activity in Hawaiʻi. Those who have fished generationally have the kuleana (responsibility) to maintain a healthy and productive resource for future generations. Before casting a line into the water take some time to learn about the cultural practice of fishing as well as the rules and regulations.


The State of Hawaiʻi does not require a license or permit for marine recreational fishing for residents or visitors as long as you don’t sell your catch. For more information on what activities require a permit or a license visit the State of Hawaiʻi Division of Aquatic Resources Licenses & Permits page.

Fishing Regulations

Recreational fishing is permitted in salt water in the park. All fishing must be in compliance with all Hawaiʻi Department of Land & Natural Resources regulations including

  • Open fishing seasons

  • Catch sizes

  • Net type and sizes

  • Bag limits

The following are not permitted within the park

  • Fishing in anchialine pools

  • Commercial fishing

  • Entering Keoneʻele Cove beyond the barriers

  • Carrying loaded spear guns

While transporting weapons utilized for fishing within the park, all weapons must be in an unloaded condition until in the act of fishing in the ocean away from the vicinity of other park visitor.

Fish Consumption Advisories in National Park Waters

The Environmental Protection Agency, states, territories, and tribes provide advice on fish and shellfish caught in the waters in their jurisdiction to help people make informed decisions about eating fish. Advisories are recommendations to limit your consumption of, or avoid eating entirely, certain species of fish or shellfish from specific bodies of water due to chemical or biological contamination.

Fish is part of a healthy balanced diet, but eating wild fish and shellfish caught in park waters is not risk free. Parks are “islands”, but the much larger “ocean” that surrounds them affects the natural resources inside a park. Other aquatic toxins are the result of natural biological processes. Also, chemical contaminants that originate outside of park boundaries can come into parks.

Mercury is an example of a toxin originating outside a park that can find its way into a park. Mercury exists naturally in some rocks, including coal. When power plants burn coal, mercury can travel in the air long distances before falling to the ground, usually in low concentrations. Once on the ground, microorganisms can change this elemental mercury to methyl mercury. This type of mercury can build up in animal tissues, and it can increase in concentration to harmful levels. This high concentration can occur in large predatory fish - those often pursued and eaten by anglers. Studies have shown that fish in some National Park System waters have mercury levels that may be a concern to people who regularly eat a lot of fish.

To learn more about this topic, the National Park Service maintains information about Fish Consumption Advisories and Mercury and Toxins in Nature.

Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park Fish Consumption Advisories

The Hawaii Seafood Council (HSC) determined that the main safety problems of importance to Hawaii include

  • Ciguatera Fish Poisoning

  • Scrombroid Fish Poisoning

  • Hallucinogenic Reef Fish Poisoning

  • Mercury

  • Parasites

This informational brochure, Keeping Hawaii Seafood Safe to Eat, by the Hawaii Seafood Council provides more information on the safety concerns listed above.

Aquatic Invasive Species

Imagine your favorite fishing spot and the wonderful memories. Things may look fine but underneath the surface there is a serious threat. Everything you remembered is now cemented together in a sharp, smelly mess. Invaders have wiped out the fish species you used to catch.

Aquatic invasive species are not native to an ecosystem. Their introduction causes, or is likely to cause, harm to the economy, the environment, or to human health. Aquatic invasive species are a growing risk to parks and their values. In the United States alone, there are more than 250 non-native aquatic species.

For many centuries, humans have contributed to spreading non-native species around the globe. You can make a difference. To learn more about Aquatic Invasive Species in the National Park Service, visit the Fish & Fishing website.

How You Can Help - Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers

  1. Use clean gear. Invasive algae is a problem throughout Hawaiʻi. Always inspect and clean gear after every use. Remove any seaweed fragments.
  2. Never transport live fish into or out of natural pools. The anchialine pools in the park contain several invasive species fish (e.g. tilapia, mosquito fish) that were introduced and have harmed the fragile environment of the anchialine pools. Remember, fishing in anchialine pools in the park is prohibited.

Fishing Throughout the National Park Service

We invite you to visit the Fish and Fishing website for more information about fish and fishing in the National Park Service. You will learn about conservation, different fish species, and parks that offer fishing.

Last updated: October 28, 2020

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