Today a small subset of the saltwater aquarium hobby is rejoicing at the announcement that Hawaii Governor David Ige vetoed the baseless and discriminatory bill which would have phased out ornamental fish collection from Hawaii. Meanwhile the rest of us know that this is just one small triumph in a long standing conflict between what some crusaders see as an ethical dilemma, and what we see as one of the most sustainable forms of livelihood from the sea.
This anti-aquarium bill is just the newest flavor of a set of laws that ‘aquarium haters’ try to get passed on a pretty regular schedule – seems like we have to band together to oppose this detritus every two years. The problem with this ‘victory’ is that we have to win every opposition legislation that get introduced, while the anti-aquarium crusaders only have to win ONCE, and then it’s game over.
Don’t think for a second that the Goggle Robs and Esme Limburgers of the world will back down from this defeat, surely they already have a game plan for their next move. But we shouldn’t be planning our next move, we should be forming a sustained campaign to tell people the truth: That aquariums are one of the biggest supporters of reef conservation.
Aquariums are an important educational tool, the aquarium hobby is a responsible industry, and most of all, that by and large our community cares very deeply about the reef, and we try to only support sustainable harvest and mariculture of ornamental fish species. The aquarium world might have seemed like an easy target for eco-fanatics to go after but they don’t know who they’re messing with!
The aquarium hobby, and especially the saltwater and reef aquarium world, is much bigger and better organized than we were ten years ago. We should all be thinking about how we can speak up on behalf of this hobby we all love so much, because it’s only a matter of time until we’re going to have to defend ourselves again, and hopefully we’ll be even more prepared for the next assault.