Arraignment and plea hearings for two Kona men accused of illegally harvesting aquarium fish offshore of Kawaihae in February have been rescheduled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Tyron T. Terazono of Kealakekua and Wayne T. Newman of Kailua-Kona are now set to appear June 2 in South Kohala Environmental Court where they will enter pleas to two charges stemming from the incident.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement said it received a tip Feb. 20 concerning illegal harvesting of aquarium fish offshore of Kawaihae. Officers subsequently conducted a commercial fishing gear and catch inspection of the vessel “Masako” when it returned to the Kawaihae Small Boat Harbor.
The inspection allegedly turned up aquarium fishing gear, including a small mesh net, aboard the vessel, according to the department. The vessel’s hold also contained 550 live tropical fish of various species.
Terazono and Newman were subsequently charged with possessing aquarium collecting gear or taking or possessing any specimen of aquatic life for aquarium purposes without holding a valid West Hawaii aquarium permit in violation of West Hawaii Regional Fishery Management Area rules. A third person was not cited.
In addition, a 2019 Force 24 Motor Vessel and trailer, and various fishing gear were seized as evidence, the department said.
An amended complaint filed March 16 added an additional charge of being a principal and/or accomplice possessing Moorish Idol (Zancalus cornutus), which is not a collectible or “white list” species under the rules.
Terazono and Newman had been slated to enter pleas to the charges on Tuesday, however, the hearings were moved pursuant to a March 16 order by Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald and a March 20 emergency order for the Third Circuit.