Success of Barbless Circle Hook Outreach Project Merits Award for Project Leader Kurt Kawamoto

In April, PIFSC scientist Kurt Kawamoto traveled to Washington, D.C., to receive the NOAA Bronze Medal Award, recognizing Kurt's tireless efforts to advance the conservation of Hawaii's coastal marine resources through the Barbless Circle Hook Project, which he created and has managed from the start. Kurt credits the project’s success to the help provided by other PIFSC staff, shoreline fishing enthusiasts, and countless volunteers. The honor was bestowed by the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, Dr. Jane Lubchenco.

The Barbless Circle Hook Project promotes the use of barbless circle hooks in Hawaii shoreline fisheries to increase the chances of survival for fish caught and released alive during fishing outings, and also to reduce injuries to protected species that might, on rare occasions, be hooked incidentally by the shoreline fishers and then carefully released. The project continues to reach out to the fishing community. Recently, project scientists and volunteers staffed an information booth at community workshops hosted by the Western Pacific Fishery Regional Management Council on the islands of Maui, Oahu, and Kauai. The Project also participated as part of the NOAA outreach booth in the Hawaii Ocean Expo (HOE). The Ocean Expo outreach was successful despite the dampening effects of a tsunami warning, which reduced attendance on the first day and caused cancellation of the associated GT Masters Fishing Tournament, where participants use both barbed and barbless hooks. The event was rescheduled for a later date.

Staff in the Barbless Circle Hook Program also were guests of the Kalaheo Elementary Fishing Club where they made a presentation about the benefits of barbless circle hooks and fielded questions from the young students. After the class, teacher Joel Kawate took some of the youngsters out on their regularly scheduled Friday fishing trip to a nearby beach, during which the girls beat the boys...again.