Push for ban on collecting in hawaii

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Post  mykez on 10th May 2012, 11:12 am

Found this an interesting read, anyone fancy a trip before this law is passed.. made me think, what are we gonna do about ensuring we can continue to collect legally into the future? I personally would be pretty cut up if a situation like this was to ever to emerge in Aus..

“Fish-collecting ban reso passes council – Supporters drown out opponents in testimony” was the news out of West Hawaii Today last week. If you thought the most recent proposal to ban marine aquarium fish collection in Hawaii was just going to go away like all the others, well, clearly it’s not.

Hawaii is rapidly becoming the battlegrounds of a “moral” war being waged against the marine aquarium collection industry – not surprisingly being spearheaded by people with vested interests in a) the diving industry and b) finding an easy scapegoat for the problems being claimed on some reefs in Hawaii.

Never mind that the expert testimony and science is on the side of the marine aquarium fishery because that’s not the point the opposition is raising in the first place. They’ll make whatever claim they feel best supports their arguments and elicits an emotional response, completely disregarding the actual facts and science. What is perhaps most alarming is that a) the committee actually heard this nonsense, b) they actually voted 6-2 in favor of the resolution despite hearing expert testimony to the contrary.

I worry that some may have seen this resolution as non-binding, not a proposed law, and decided not to act. 101 people thought it was worth it to show up or support this effort, despite its non-binding status. This passage of this resolution is the first victory, and a stepping stone for further attempts to ban a sustainable fishery in the state of Hawaii solely on emotional, irrational, and moral grounds. Ironically, it’s OK to catch the fish and kill it and eat it, but it’s not okto catch it, give it a predator free environment, try to breed it, and let it live out a life that far surpasses the expected lifespan in the wild? We admit it, even on the moral battle the thinking doesn’t add up.

Clearly, this must serve as a wake-up call to the marine aquarium industry – with a “total of 117 testifiers, 101 supporting the resolution and 16 opposed”, it is going to be very hard to fight off these constant attacks unless the industry becomes much more proactive, transparent, and involved. This is a classic example of whoever shouts the loudest is the one who gets heard. The minority, despite having facts and science behind them, clearly didn’t get a fair hearing from the council (we also suspect it’s hard to stand up for what’s right, or what the science says, when you’re a politician and your constituents are calling for blood – it certainly doesn’t hurt the politician to side with the mob when the decision is only symbolic anyways).

Meanwhile, until captive breeding locks down all these treasured aquarium fish and serves as the ark for these species, we as a hobby and trade need access to wild broodstock. When a fishery that is considered sustainable and possibly a benchmark for the trade can come under attacks like this, it isn’t simply rhetoric to say that we can lose access to wild caught fish, and when that happens, we’ll only have what we can breed. To the folks in the industry who figure breeders will get it done, guess what – breeders need a lot more time and support to make that happen, and they need wild broodstock. A call to all potential and future breeders – this may be a good time to start obtaining broodstock of any Hawaiian-endemic you want to have a chance of seeing in the future. Might as well start trying to breed them before we lose access to them. Thankfully, we all know that quality fish given proper care can last for decades in aquariums.

Only 16 people submitted testimony in opposition to the ban? I was one of those 16 who submitted testimony. Only 15 other people did? If you want thriving and vibrant marine aquarium trade in the future, the answer seems abundantly clear – get organized and fight back. It’s going to take more than a couple aquarium authors speaking out against this madness – it is going to take the industry reaching out to it’s own constituents, and working with governmental management agencies, to not only provide the scientific and economical arguments, but to engage hobbyists to fight just as passionately for their hobby on the emotional and moral grounds being argued.

You can start here – the West Hawaii Today is running a poll regarding the passed resolution to ban ornamental fish collection. Sadly, the poll is skewed so that none of the responses are really “pro fishing”, but the majority of respondents thus far (188) classify the resolution a waste of council time, while another large group (146) respond in a pro-ban worded option that encourages state action, and a tiny group (16) suggest the ban is a good idea, but the council is just not the place.

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Post  finfan on 10th May 2012, 3:41 pm

Has a similar to ring to it for me -Green zones, Marine Parks and even a snapper ban..lol -all in the name of preservation and conservation - oh no, nothing to do with the political influences ...... Twisted Evil

Goes to show -If we live in a sheep nation, then we breed a wolf government ..... Evil or Very Mad


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Post  Crotalus on 3rd July 2012, 8:45 pm

Hawaii has been having this battle for years and years and it's really unfortunate that factual information is so unimportant in the argument. Having lived and studied there, I can see why the emotions are so high. If you go snorkel in a marine protected area, you see large schools of colorful fish, it can be really impressive. However, go around to the next unprotected bay and all you see is a handful of fish. There are areas where local reef fish are over-harvested, but there are far more areas where harvesting is illegal and the fish populations are fine. The problem these ban-happy people have is that the protected areas are further away and so they don't see that Hawaii has taken substantial efforts to save its reefs and it largely is doing an excellent job.

In my personal opinion, it really comes down to one fish species, the yellow tang. They are the only brightly colored fish there that school in large numbers. In some places the waves actually become highlighted with yellow as they curl from all the fish, this is the impressive sight people see snorkeling in protected areas. Those large schools don't hang out near fishing sites and so the impression becomes that these fish are decimated in those areas. I say this because very little attention is given to the species that actually need protection, like sharks. It is uncommon to see sharks around Hawaii and the ones you do see are juveniles. In fact, many of the game species are fairly uncommon, but these aren't the pretty fish you go snorkeling for and so they get no attention. If these people really cared about fish, they'd do more than just vehemently protect the small, colorful ones that have perfectly sustainable populations.

I too would hate Aus to become a place where every single fun activity is illegal because it offends someone. I am not sure how lobbying works in Aus, but when the Humane Society tried to convince congress to ban ALL exotic animals in the US (anything that wasn't a cat, dog or farm animal), a pet industry lobbying firm pooled money from businesses and hobbyists to oppose that stupid law and it was defeated. Money talks. Hawaii fish banners have more money right now, and so they still get a seat at the table, no matter how undeserving they may be.

My second opinion, find the cutest, most colorful fish in Oz and make sure it still has a strong visual presence near population centers. If people still see their favorite fish, they're less likely to imagine a problem.


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