Frequently Asked Questions about the Southern Exclusion Zone (SEZ)
A conservation measure designed to reduce bycatch of false killer whales.
Is the Southern Exclusion Zone Open or Closed?
The SEZ is currently open. However, all commercial fishing is prohibited in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. This includes the area where the monument and the SEZ overlap (west of 163°0’0”W). Longline fishing is also prohibited in the Main Hawaiian Islands Longline Prohibited Area.
What is the Southern Exclusion Zone?
The SEZ is an area that NOAA Fisheries closes to commercial Hawaiʻi deep-set longline fishing to reduce bycatch of false killer whales.
We close the SEZ for periods of time specified in the False Killer Whale Take Reduction Plan whenever specific levels of false killer whale bycatch in the Hawaiʻi deep-set longline fishery are observed in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone around Hawaiʻi.
Learn more about closure triggers and lengths
Why was the Southern Exclusion Zone created?
NOAA Fisheries established the SEZ in 2012 to reduce mortality and serious injuries of false killer whales caught as bycatch in the Hawaiʻi deep-set longline fishery.
Learn more about false killer whale take reduction efforts
Where is the Southern Exclusion Zone located?
The SEZ is located in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) south of the main Hawaiian Islands.
SEZ boundaries are:
- North – Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and the Main Hawaiian Islands Longline Fishing Prohibited Area
- East – 154° 30′ W. longitude
- South – U.S. EEZ boundary
- West – 165° 00′ W. longitude
When is the Southern Exclusion Zone closed?
The SEZ will be closed to deep-set longline fishing if the SEZ Trigger is met. The SEZ Trigger is defined as four observed false killer whale interactions in the U.S. EEZ around Hawai‘i that NOAA Fisheries scientists determine resulted in deaths or “serious injuries” in a given year.
When were the past Southern Exclusion Zone Closures?
The SEZ has been closed twice:
- July 24 to December 31, 2018
- February 22, 2019 to August 25, 2020
Is shallow-set longline fishing prohibited within the Southern Exclusion Zone?
No. Closures apply only to deep-set longline fishing.