Court Ruling Halts All Existing Hawaii Commercial Aquarium Fishing Licenses

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Elder1945

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Well, that's it...

Under a new court ruling, state officials must halt all existing commercial aquarium fishing in Hawaii until those operations submit the proper environmental reviews, according to the environmental legal group Earthjustice.

 
Zoanthids

revhtree

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Looks like they will have time to submit the proper documents or am I reading wrong?

In November, Crabtree ruled that all commercial aquarium fishers must first provide approved environmental impact statements to collect fish from the islands’ nearshore waters, not just the ones who use fine-mesh nets.


In response, the DLNR declared that it would let the existing licenses operate until they expire instead of canceling them immediately. Those commercial marine licenses, or CMLs, expire after a year.
 

reefcleaners

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Must be nice to be a judge. You can destroy livelihoods, based on your feelings. Never pay any price. Get called your Honorable Majesty at work the next day. The 41 aquarium collectors will destroy Hawaii, but not the 2959 food and bait fisherman. Gill netting is still legal in Hawaii by the way.
 

reefcleaners

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And another thing! :) Sorry for my rant, let me continue...

As shark and barracuda populations increase in American waters, the numbers of their prey will decline a bit, and we need to make the case that a couple million extra sharks in the water has *some* impact on the fish they consume. We do not like to think about it, but our pets are at the bottom of the food chain, and are preyed on by species that are increasing in numbers. Blue Planet 2 episode 3 has a scene of what happens on a reef at night if you are curious about how dangerous life is for our fish friends.
 
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vetteguy53081

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Update (courtesy of Coral)

In the ongoing legal battle over Hawaii’s marine aquarium fishery, PIJAC, and the Hawaiian aquarium fishermen that it represents, have submitted their latest Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) covering the West Hawaii aquarium fishery. Framed as a Revised Final Environmental Impact Statement (RFEIS), the 1,585-page pdf document dated May 26, 2021, and published June 8th, is available for download.

The document’s Executive Summary (included below) offers a complete timeline of the legal challenges that the aquarium fishery has faced and outlines the fishery’s latest proposal to reopen.

A Revised Aquarium Fishery

Should their latest proposal be accepted and approved, only the West Hawaii Regional Fishery Management Area would reopen as a result. Just seven collection permits would be available, and only eight species of reef fish could be collected for the aquarium trade. These eight species were selected based on the following criteria:

  • No statistically significant population declines in Open Areas between 1999/2000 and 2017/2018 (WHAP data from DAR 2019a)
  • Recent catch (2017 fiscal year) of at least 100 fish (representing at least 0.03% of the total aquarium catch)
  • Open Area population density of at least 0.5 fish/100m2 (data from DAR 2019a)
A ninth species, Fisher’s Angelfish (Centropyge fisheri) also met these criteria, but was not proposed given its existing administrative status as a species of “special concern”.

In addition to the highly restricted list of approved species, catch quotas for all 8 species are proposed, spreading the total catch out equally among 7 permit holders. This creates a maximum allowable annual catch for the 8 proposed species:

  • Yellow Tang, Zebrasoma flavescens – 28,571 per fisher/200,000 total
  • Potter’s Angelfish, Centropyge potteri – 625/4376
  • Kole Tang, Ctenochaetus strigosus – 4,285/30,000
  • Cheveron Tang, Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis – 450/3152
  • Bird Wrasse, Gomphosus varius – 49/344
  • Naso Tang, Naso lituratus – 838/5872
  • Brown Surgeonfish, Acanthurus nigrofuscus – 114/800
  • Thompson’s Surgeonfish, Acanthurus thompsoni – 288/2016
What’s next?

At this point, the EIS is back in the hands of Hawaii’s Bureau of Land Management for reconsideration. The possible outcomes range from acceptance to outright rejection of the proposal and the continued ban of any aquarium fishing in West Hawaii.

Executive Summary

In October 2017, the circuit court ruled that, based upon the Supreme Court of Hawai’i’s opinion, existing Commercial Aquarium Permits (Aquarium Permits) for use of fine mesh nets to catch aquatic life for aquarium purposes are illegal and invalid. The circuit court ordered the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) not to issue any new Aquarium Permits pending environmental review. The DLNR has not issued new or additional Aquarium Permits under HRS §188-31 since September of 2017.

In January 2021, the court ruled that Commercial Marine Licenses (CMLs) for commercial aquarium collection were invalid as well, and the DLNR began the process of notifying all current permit holders that the CML could no longer be used for commercial aquarium purposes, updating the Specific Terms and Conditions of the CML to reflect that environmental review was needed prior to using a CML for commercial aquarium purposes.

The Applicant initially prepared and submitted an Environmental Assessment on April 8, 2018, evaluating the impacts of issuance of Aquarium Permits on the island of Hawai’i programmatically to any applicant over a 12-month analysis period. The DLNR determined on July 26, 2018, that preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was required, based on five significance criteria outlined in Title II, Chapter 200, Hawai’i Administrative Rules. An evaluation of the significance criteria, including the five identified by the DLNR, is provided in Section 5.6 of this document.

A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) evaluating the impacts of issuance of 14 Aquarium Permits for the West Hawai’i Regional Fishery Management Area (WHRFMA) was published on November 23, 2019.

A Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) evaluating the impacts of issuance of 10 Aquarium Permits for the WHRFMA was published on April 23, 2020, and included a change to the proposed action, reducing the number of Commercial Aquarium Permits from 14 to 10. On June 23, 2020 the State of Hawai’i Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) published the FEIS Acceptance Determination of non-acceptance of the FEIS.

A Revised DEIS was prepared to address the 14 concerns raised by the BLNR in their non-acceptance determination. It evaluated the impacts of issuance of seven Aquarium Permits, West Hawai’i Aquarium Permits, and corresponding Commercial Marine Licenses (CMLs) for the WHRFMA, creation of a Revised White List consisting of eight species (prohibiting catch of the other 32 species currently on the White List), and the creation of individual catch quotas for each of the eight species on the proposed Revised White List was published on February 23, 2021.

Since the release of the Revised DEIS, edits were made (Appendix E) in response to public comments (see Appendix C), including editing language in the Revised FEIS to clarify that population trends are used as the measure of sustainability to evaluate impacts to fish populations, and edits to the proposed enforcement and compliance measures in Section 3.7.2.

The Applicant has prepared this Revised FEIS to inform the public of the proposed action (i.e., issuance of 7 Aquarium Permits, corresponding CMLs, creation of a Revised White List, and implementation of individual catch quotas for the 8 species on the Revised White List) and the impacts of the proposed action and its alternatives, and to incorporate information gained through public involvement throughout the entirety of the Hawai’i Environmental Policy Act (HEPA) process beginning in 2018. The Preferred Alternative includes issuance of 7 Aquarium Permits and CMLs for the WHRFMA, reduction of the White List from 40 to 8 species, and implementation of individual catch quotas for all 8 species. No Aquarium Permits or CMLs for commercial aquarium collection would be issued under this action for other areas of the state, including East Hawai’i, and collection in the WHRFMA would be limited to the eight species on the proposed Revised White List. Implementation of the Preferred Alternative would ensure the lawful, responsible, and sustainable commercial collection of eight fish species from the WHRFMA.

Aside from the additional conservation measures included in the Preferred Alternative, the issuance of 7 Aquarium Permits and CMLs under the Preferred Alternative does not include any activities different from, or in addition to, those that have occurred in the past. There would be no construction of permanent or semi-permanent infrastructure, no discharges into coastal, surface or ground waters, no dredging, and no significant use of hazardous materials that could be released into the environment. The DLNR’s issuance of 7 Aquarium Permits and CMLs is not anticipated to result in significant beneficial or adverse impacts to water and air quality, geology and soil resources, aesthetics, noise, vegetation, terrestrial wildlife, avian species, threatened and endangered species, land use, public health and safety, communications, transportation, utilities, or population and demographics from their current condition.

Populations of all eight species that would be collected under the Preferred Alternative have been either stable or increasing under historic annual collection (2000-2017, after establishment of the WHRFMA), and it is therefore anticipated that those population trends would continue under the collection proposed under the Preferred Alternative.

Two studies have concluded that the aquarium fishery has no significant impact on coral or the reef ecosystem. In addition, herbivores collected by the aquarium fishery typically consist of the smaller size classes which are the least effective sizes for cropping algae. One study found there were no increases the abundance of macroalgae where the abundance of herbivores was reduced by aquarium collecting, though turf algae is the primary food of herbivores, and thus healthy herbivore populations are critical for healthy coral populations.

Aquarium industry submits revised EIS: Fishing permits, allowable species to be reduced – West Hawaii Today
 

Adamantium

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200k yellow tangs a year seems Ike a freaking lot.
Looks like the population has consistently grown year after year for the last two decades, and, as of 2015, was at 3.6M. It’s almost certainly higher now, but at those levels, that puts collection at 5.5%. Additionally, and most importantly, IMO, most of those collected are juveniles that very often don’t make it to adulthood, anyway.
 
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