About the Barbless Circle Hook Project


Monk seal with hook.

In recent years our society has identified a need to reduce human interactions with protected species in the marine environment, including the sea turtles and monk seals that frequent Hawaii's nearshore waters. There is no group of marine conservationists more concerned and enthusiastic about this responsibility than Hawaii's shoreline and small-boat recreational fishing community. They have learned that by using barbless circle hooks instead of ordinary barbed fishing hooks, they can help reduce the severity of injuries to the fish they catch and release and any protected species they happen to hook accidentally and cut loose from the line. The barbless hooks give the animal a better chance of quickly ridding itself of the hook, even without human intervention.

In 2004, several scientists at the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) began the Barbless Circle Hook Project to increase the awareness and use of barbless circle hooks by Hawaii's shoreline fishermen. The program has been a big success due to the enthusiastic support and active participation of the fishing community.

Goals of the Barbless Circle Hook Project

Shoreline catch release.
  • Promote fishermen awareness of the protected species issue and provide practical ways to mitigate post hooking injury of these animals
  • Inform fishermen about the effectiveness of the barbless circle hooks
  • Get fishermen to try using barbless circle hooks
  • Promote responsible fishing practices such as the proactive use of barbless circle hooks
  • Educate the public about how fishing and protected species can coexist


  • State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources' Marine Wildlife Program