Yes, you know it’s not “fun” news when we lead off with this picture but if you care about yellow & chevron tangs or potters and bandit angelfish, read on.
Reef Builders staff received a very interesting and detailed examination of several Bills of Concern in the Hawaii State Senate and House – many of which are new proposals to outright ban marine aquarium fish collection in the state. We’re received permission to republish excerpts of this email in an effort to expand awareness of the ongoing threats that the aquarium industry is facing in Hawaii.
While we make no claims as to the accuracy of the interpretations, we owe a great thanks to the source (who asked to remain anonymous) – these issues are growing to the point where unless it is a full-time-job, there’s no way any single person can truly stay on top of this. If that’s not a wakeup call to hobbyists and aquarium industry insiders alike, we don’t know what else it’s going to take.
Excerpt Part 1
As we all know, the legislative session began last week. Snorkel Bob & his friends have been busy, and so far there are seven bills and four resolutions that have to do with aquarium fish. At least four of these would effectively kill the aquarium fishery in Hawaii, and need to be stopped.
In the senate, there are three bills that are of serious concern:
– This one is from the Kauai County Council resolution. It calls for a complete ban on the sale of aquarium fish. Going further, it would also prohibit captive breeding and severely restrict fish collection for research.
– This bill would eliminate the state’s ability to regulate the aquarium fishery, and transfer that authority to the county
governments. As we know, the counties do not have the resources or expertise to deal with fishing regulations; either the fishery would be completely unregulated or it would be shut down. In the long run, this bill would effectively lead to the elimination of the aquarium fishery as we know it.
– This bill calls for three things: new marine protected areas on all islands, an increase in the aquarium permit fee to $500, and closing the aquarium fishery during the months of January, April, July, and October. It would also eliminate recreational aquarium permits, so hobbyists would no longer be able to catch their own fish. While the bill doesn’t call for a complete ban, shutting down the fishery for 4 months out of every year has no useful scientific basis and would
drive a number of people out of business. It’s unlikely that most people in the industry could survive if this bill were to pass.
In the house, there is one bill that calls for a ban:
– This bill is the same as SB2042 – also from the Kauai County Council. Again, it’s a complete ban.
Excerpt Part 2
The deadline for bill introductions was yesterday, so these should be all the bills we need to worry about for now. Hearings for these bills could be held any time between now and the end of February. It’s important that everybody is prepared, gets your testimony ready, and is able to drop what you’re doing and attend the hearing if it
Excerpt Part 3
Right now, what we can do is to call our legislators’ offices, to say that we’re opposed to the bills, and request that they not be heard. Hopefully, this will reduce the chance that any of them will be scheduled for a hearing. Please note that this is not a substitute for sending testimony to the hearing. Also, it is better to call on the phone than to send e-mail.
In the senate, SB2042, SB2002, and SB2408 will be heard by the Water & Land committee, chaired by Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz. The phone number for his office is 808-586-6091. Please call if you have the time, and make sure to state the bill numbers you’re opposed to.
We would encourage anyone who wishes to submit testimony or call a legislator to be considerate and thoughtful in their remarks. So often it seems that emotion and morality are taking the spotlight in this debate, with scientific data being sidetracked.