An unprecedented opportunity to permanently end commercial aquarium collection is here!
We are among a group of native Hawaiian and marine protection groups that recently filed a formal petition with Hawaiʻi’s Board of Land and Natural Resources to enact a rule to prohibit collection of reef wildlife for the aquarium pet trade. If granted, the Department of Land and Natural Resources – Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) will need to begin rulemaking and hold public hearings on the proposal.
UPDATE- November meeting postponed and the Aquarium Collection agenda item has been moved to December 8!
The Board will make its decision and needs to hear from you! Please submit testimony now urging the Board to approve the petition and direct DAR to begin rulemaking (testimony instructions below – deadline is Weds. December. 7 at 9:00 am).
We are hopeful about this petition because recent Board decisions have demonstrated their willingness to carry out a long-standing policy directive to prioritize natural and cultural resources over commercial activities that cause excessive negative impacts to those resources.
In a separate new rule proposed by DAR, food fishers will be required to reduce their take of herbivores, which are critical for coral reef health. This shows the need for a permanent ban on the aquarium (AQ) trade which, in West Hawaiʻi, historically took more herbivores than subsistence, recreational and commercial food fishers combined, and proposed to do so again in their Environmental Impact Statements!
Further examples of the need to permanently ban the AQ trade:
South west O‘ahu’s collapse of yellow tang populations 35 years ago and the continued island-wide depletion of upwards of 90% of those and other species targeted by the trade;
West Hawai‘i reefs open to the trade experiencing an 80% decline in yellow tangs as recently as 2016, the last full year of AQ collection before the court temporarily ended it;
AQ collector’s intentional breaking of coral – sometimes with crowbars – in the capture of Potter’s angelfish and other species which hide within the reef;
Widespread illegal poaching that the AQ trade admits continues to this day, and at least 7 AQ collectors who were charged with poaching more than 1,000 fish;
The trade inherently conflicts with local culture and native Hawaiian values, including pono fishing practices to only take what is needed;
Published cost/benefit analysis shows residents receive ZERO benefits from the AQ trade, but suffer ALL the costs;
The AQ trade’s persistent disregard for important facts as well as for public comments opposing their conclusions in their deeply flawed and skewed Environmental Impact Statements;
Your testimony is urgently needed to help ensure our reefs and their creatures remain protected today and for future generations!
PRIORITY ACTION 1 – WRITTEN TESTIMONY submitted by deadline:
Email Subject: Agenda Item F.3 Testimony
Email Body: Easy& powerful testimony: give your name, town and island, and a few heartfelt sentences on why you support a rule ending commercial aquarium collection.
ACTION 2 – SPREAD THE WORD: Please forward this email to your friends and family and share on social media.
The Formal Petition and DARs response (in reverse order) is posted HERE, and the full meeting agenda is HERE.
The meeting begins at 9:15, and though not in our hands, we will request that the issue be moved up on the agenda. Monitor meeting progress via YouTube livestream here.
Thanks to Hawai’i Friends of the Fishes and Native Hawaiian leaders for leading this initiative.