Illegal nets, boy missing

Forklift required to move huge illegal net

HONOLULU — An illegal fishing net discovered in a Hawaii bay was so large that a forklift was needed to move it, state officials said.

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The state Department of Land and Natural Resources said the net was found by two boaters in Oahu’s Kaneohe Bay last week, Hawaii Public Radio reported Thursday.

Two boaters discovered the net after their craft became entangled. The boaters said that after they pulled the net out of the bay, the apparent owners chased them to retrieve the equipment. The boaters returned to the harbor and their pursuers fled, they said.

State officials were not able to immediately measure the net, but the boaters said their measurement found 500 yards (457 meters) of netting.

Rules adopted in 2007 to govern the use of gill nets left floating on top of the water to trap fish can be no longer than 125 feet (38 meters). Lay nets are banned within 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) of the Oahu shoreline and in specific areas of the island including Kaneohe Bay, where the net was found, officials said.

Maui has banned the lay net method, which a land and natural resources department official said is the most regulated form of gill net fishing.

“It’s because we do have situations where nets are abandoned, or they’re laid out for an extensive period of time, and we cannot locate the owners. We can’t really hold people responsible without knowing who they are,” said Jason Redulla, head of the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement.

A $5,000 fine can be levied for a first offense of catching threatened or endangered wildlife in the nets, with additional fines for each threatened or endangered wildlife taken, harmed or killed. A first offense fine for illegal lay net fishing can cost up to $1,000.

Hilo 6-year-old with autism still missing

HILO — Hawaii Island police continue to ask for the public’s assistance and continue to search for a missing 6-year-old Hilo boy.

A multi-agency search effort has yielded minimal results during an extensive search for Benjamin Rapoza, who was last seen at a residence in the 2100 block of Kalanianaole Street at around 3 p.m. Friday. Benjamin is described as local, standing about 3 feet tall, weighing about 50 pounds, slim build, with short brown hair, brown eyes, and a fair complexion. He was last seen wearing only a diaper.

Police are concerned for his welfare as Benjamin is diagnosed with nonverbal autism.

Today’s efforts included personnel and assets from the Hawaii Fire Department, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, U.S. Coast Guard, “Team Adam” from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, both Area I and II Criminal Investigations Divisions, and South Hilo Patrol.

Community members and concerned citizens from the Keaukaha and Hilo areas also volunteered to assist in searching for “Benny.”

Rain and heightened ocean swells hampered portions of the search and posed a navigation hazard to the fire department’s rescue vessel, requiring it return to shore. Neither the vessel nor the personnel onboard sustained damages or injuries.

“We are truly grateful to the incredible response from the community during the search for Benny. While we encourage the public’s assistance, we do not want any injuries or mishaps, so please be vigilant of the ocean conditions and do not place your personal safety at risk,” said Capt. Greg Esteban, commander of the Area I Criminal Investigations Division.

Police continue to ask anyone with information on Benjamin’s whereabouts or may have seen him in the Keaukaha areas to call the Detective BJ Sagon at 961-8883 or email bobbie-jo.sagon@hawaiicounty.gov.

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Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island-wide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

From local and wire sources

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