Fish collection in Hawaii halted

Taking place from the 7th September, collection across Hawaii of marine fish is now effectively discontinued until further notice.

The dispute stems from a legal case from 2012, where plaintiffs sued the State Department of Land and Natural Resources over non-compliance with Hawaii’s Environmental Policy Act regarding the undertaking of environmental reviews before issuing collecting permits.

Wednesday’s decision saw the Supreme Court agreeing with plaintiffs, ordering the Circuit Court to grant an injunction prohibiting commercial aquarium collections.

What does this mean for the hobby? Most notably, with immediate effect there will be no more Hawaiian wild caught Yellow tangs. Other species historically imported in numbers from Hawaii include Hermit crabs, Feather duster worms, Achilles tang, Goldring tang, Potter’s angelfish, and Moorish idols.

Hawaii’s fish collection industry has been under fire for some time, with conservationists citing concerns of ecosystem damage through excess Yellow tang collection – the tangs control algae which, conservationists say, becomes an issue once the fish are removed. Other concerns raised are the disappearance of food fish eaten for generations by indigenous people, with Achilles tang cited as an example.

The ruling of the Supreme Court means that analysis of the industry’s impact on the marine ecosystems will be needed before any collection permits will be issued. Without permits, no collection can take place, and there’ll be no permits until a proper environmental review is performed.

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