A new building at Pier 38 in Honolulu promises to make life for commercial fishermen a whole lot easier.
Known as the Fisheries Honolulu Service Center, the building will house Fisheries staff, science staff and the fishery observer program for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.
Instead of traveling to downtown Honolulu, fishermen can submit permit applications, turn in log books and receive general information about fishery regulations and seafood safety by simply walking across the docks at Pier 38.
"This at least makes their life more pleasurable to get these things out of the way in a timely way," said Mike Tosatto, the Pacific Islands regional administrator for the NOAA Fisheries Service.
When commercial fishermen come into port, they're required to turn in log books within 72 hours that show where they've been, how many hooks they dropped, the size of their catch and whether they had any incidental interactions with protected species.
With the new center at Pier 38, NOAA expects to get log books much sooner than the time allowed.
"It's very important to get that in a timely way, because then we can make smart, quick decisions if necessary," said Tosatto.
One of the greatest advantages of the new NOAA center is the ability for fishermen to apply for fishing permits online. Getting a permit approved through the mail used to take as long as five to 10 working days, but now may only take a matter of minutes.
"Our biggest goal was to be more accessible," said Tosatto. "We hope to be able to, while they're standing in the office, process and issue the permit."
The new building had been planned at Ford Island, but NOAA and Hawaii Sen. Dan Inouye were able to work out a compromise with the association of owners at Pier 38.