Urgent Alert on Hawaii Fishery Closure

Urgent Alert On Hawaiian Fish

If you’ve paid any attention to news surrounding that aquarium hobby, there have been many challenges over the years designed to stop the collection of ornamental fish from Hawaiian waters. Despite the fact that the West Hawaii fishery has been determined to be among the best managed in the world, it has to overcome continuous attempts to shut it down.

The most recent challenge in the Hawaii Supreme Court has centered around whether or not permits for ornamental fish collection should fall under the regulations outlined by the Hawaii Environmental Protection Act (HEPA). Last night, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that commercial aquarium collection is, in fact, subject to HEPA’s requirements.

What This Means For Aquarists

What this means for aquarists is that as of today (9/7/2017), all collection of fish in Hawaii has been stopped. These fish, most notably yellow tangs, will not be available from Hawaiian sources.

Unfortunately, it is still unknown how to successfully aquaculture many reef fish, and the work that organizations such as Rising Tide Conservation can do will be greatly diminished as a result of there being more limited sources of fish to work with.

What Can You Do To Help?

The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), who has been working with legislators and Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources to keep the fisheries operating, is already looking to develop strategies on how to move forward in order to get the fishery reopened.

There are potential paths forward. For example, the ruling by the Hawaii Supreme Court moved the case back down to circuit courts and left open the possibility of aquarium collection qualifying for an exemption to HEPA regulations should sufficient evidence be presented. There are likely other avenues that might be explored as well.

Unfortunately, the legal process that will be required to overturn this ruling is immensely challenging and, subsequently, highly expensive. We encourage every retailer and hobbyist to contribute to PIJAC’s Aquatic Defense Fund in order help with this process. PIJAC continues to be the first, and sometimes only, line of defense against rulings such as these. The work they do is invaluable and your contributions can truly make a difference.

Additionally, we highly encourage both retailers and hobby clubs to become PIJAC members. PIJAC plays a pivotal role in the health of the entire pet industry by working with legislators to shape the laws that affect pet ownership, developing resources to promote animal welfare, and creating initiatives to help preserve the environments our pets come from.

To learn more about PIJAC’s Aquatic Defense Fund and make a donation, go to http://pijac.org/aquatic 

To learn more about PIJAC and become a member, go to http://pijac.org 

To read the Hawaii Supreme Court’s ruling in its entirety, go to http://cases.justia.com/hawaii/supreme-court/2017-scwc-13-0002125.pdf?ts=1504728111