Two Hawaii State Senate Committees convened this past Friday to discuss and vote on Senate Bill 505, seeking to “prohibit the harvesting of aquatic life for commercial aquarium purposes, regardless of the method of collection.” If passed, this bill would have imposed a statewide ban.
Testimony poured in for the bill: 303 letters of testimony were in support of the bill, while 331 were opposed. 75 of those opposed came in the form of a petition circulated by Coral Fish Hawaii.
The Committee on Water and Land voted 3 (yes) to 2 (no) in favor of the bill, while the Committee on Agriculture and Environment voted 2 (yes) to 3 (no). The bill was narrowly defeated.
In spite of a wealth of data showcasing sustained increases in densities of many of the most popular marine aquarium fishes on West Hawaii’s reefs during the operation of the fishery; there are powerful and vocal stakeholders who remain committed to closing this fishery.
Barring new legislation, the fishery is currently on track to re-open after a 5-year statewide injunction spurred by court battles. If it does, the State’s Department of Land and Natural Resources’ comprehensive regulatory landscape for this fishery can serve as a model for marine aquarium fisheries around the world that need examples like Hawaii to emulate for the conservation of their own coral reefs.
[text above is an official release from the Coral Reef Aquarium Fisheries Campaign]
image courtesy Digital-Reefs.com