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Hawaii Aquarium Fish Update: There is a renewed request for a ban

Meerwasser-lexikon (c) by LST1977

The Hawaiian ornamental fishing story continues. Just when we saw a public hearing in the state of Hawaii calling again for a complete ban on collecting aquarium fish, just when we thought we could get our beloved yellow doctors and their friends back, so what happened? Translated from the original article that appeared on Reefbuilders.


First, here's what has happened so far.
In January 2021, there was a ruling that completely banned the collection of ornamental fish throughout the state of Hawaii and immediately invalidated all existing permits for commercial aquarium fishing.

Since then, a group of aquarium industry advocates, backed by 30 years of peer-reviewed scientific data, have been trying to reverse this ban.
Then, in October 2022, a court ruled to lift the injunction.

To enforce this, the aquarium industry and its fishermen sought even stricter self-regulation (Hawaii is already one of the most heavily regulated fisheries in the world), limiting the potential permits to just seven, the number of fish species allowed to just eight, while also limiting potential catch and individual catch across those seven potential fishing permits. It's not fair, but at least it will allow us to get back the yellow doctor (Zebrasoma flavescens) and the coal doctor (Ctenochaetus strigosus), as well as the Potters dwarf angelfish (Centropyge potteri).

Meerwasser-lexikon (c) ingokrause


Meerwasser-lexikon (c) by AQZENO



But as we (Reefbuilders) had predicted, proponents of the ban on collecting ornamental fish have again taken legal action. There are renewed calls for a bill to ban all fishing around Hawaii. It's a vicious cycle.


Those petitioning for a ban include multi-generational indigenous Hawaiians who want to protect their native fauna while retaining the right to fish for food, and Earth Justice, an environmental group that wants to completely ban the trade in wild-caught aquarium fish.

Those fighting to reopen the ornamental Hawaiian fish trade include importers and wholesalers of aquarium animals, aquarium companies and those who make their living catching fish like the yellow surgeonfish for the aquarium trade, some of whom are also multi-generational indigenous Hawaiians.

The argument for the ban is the environmental impact.
The argument against the ban is that 30 years of scientific data has clearly proven that there is no environmental impact.

No fish collected are also on any threatened or endangered list. They are still there after 30 years of sustainable fishing, and some experts who oppose the recent call for a ban have told the State of Hawaii on record that there are more fish after 30 years of fishing than all the years before.

Lengthy court cases are very costly, and we must point out that the case to lift a fishing ban was paid for by a few select companies who are paying on behalf of the entire saltwater industry. They will remain unnamed at this time, but if we ever get yellow doctors back, it will be because of their funding and tremendous effort.

There is talk online about which species we want back, which ones we would like etc, but one stakeholder told Reef Builders that because of the process, if fish ever come back, the species selected and their numbers are already set in stone. It's based on a 1500-page environmental impact statement.


Where we wanted to be now is that with the injunction lifted, fishermen can apply to the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources for a permit. It should be one last hurdle to overcome to get wild-caught Hawaiian yellow doe back into the shops and our aquariums. Where we actually are is back in court against a new proposal to ban them all again.


So, advocates for collecting ornamental fish from Hawaii need your support again and are asking you to sign up at the following link and say something as simple as "I oppose the ban on ornamental fishing in marine aquariums in West Hawaii." Your city, state or country is not required.

The link is: https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=SB&billnumber=505&year=2023

The original article: https://reefbuilders.com/2023/02/06/hawaii-aquarium-fish-update-renewed-request-for-a-ban/



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