Thinner, weaker circle hooks and thicker, less breakable fishing line are the new reality for longline fisherman, in the drive to protect false killer whales.
"If the agency hadn't dragged its feet for years, these protections would have been in place in time," said Earthjustice lawyer David Henkin.
The National Marine Fisheries Service has confirmed a Hawaii-based longline boat hooked a false killer whale in late January.
New regulations that went into effect Jan. 1, require that after two hookings that are deemed to be fatal to false killer whales will trigger a shutdown of 112,575 square nautical miles of fishing waters south of the Hawaiian Islands for the rest of the year.
"The consequences for the false killer whale are severe. The consequences for the fishing industry could be likewise severe," said Henkin.
"Is it unfair? Yes. And already Hawaii and the U.S. management regimes are one of the most stringent management regimes in the world," said Sean Martin, president of the Hawaii Longline Association.
"This is tricky. It's complex and multifaceted, and the next step is we're actually bringing a team back in May and talking about what did we get right," said Lisa van Atta, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
And what they may be, getting wrong.
KITV asked longliners if the weaker hooks can release big tuna too.
Martin says it does.