Hawaii Stops Collecting Of Marine Fish



Hawaii stops collecting of marine fish
12th October 2017

By Sandra Pearce

Hawaii has effectively stopped the collecting of marine fish for the global ornamental trade.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) said in a statement that it had stopped issuing and renewing aquarium fish collection permits until it receives further guidance following a state Supreme Court ruling.

The high court had ruled that the issuance of permits must comply with the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act which requires an environmental study, and as such issued an injunction to halt the collection of aquarium fishes until the proper environmental review is conducted, reports the Hawaii News.

Hawaii is a major source of commercial aquarium fish, most notably yellow tangs, said Rene Umberger, who is among a group of plaintiffs who sued the state in 2012, arguing there should be environmental reviews before the DNLR issued the permits.

The high court ruling reverses earlier lower court decisions that sided with the DNLR.


Each commercial aquarium collection permit authorised the removal of an unlimited number of fish or other aquatic life from Hawaii’s coastal waters, while recreational aquarium collection permits authorised an annual catch limit of 2,000 fish.

The ruling said a lower court must now determine whether recreational aquarium fish collection is exempt from the law.

The west coast of Hawaii has more aquarium fish-collecting regulations than the rest of the state.

The Ornamental Fish International said on its Facebook page: “This is very disappointing news, and demonstrates some of the issues that trade organisations are constantly defending the industry against. What is particularly bad about this case is that science is on the side of industry, with a well-managed sustainable fishery. However, advocacy groups are still able to ‘close’ the fishery, hopefully this is only temporary...”