Hawaii Fish - UPDATE

Hawaiian fish: Senate Bill 505 defeated 

The State of Hawaii Bill calling to prohibit the harvesting of aquatic life for commercial aquarium purposes was voted down by one of the committees. Bill 505 was the latest significant hurdle serving to prevent the capture of Hawaiian saltwater fish for ornamental aquaria which, if it had been passed, would mean no Hawaiian saltwater fish like Yellow tangs would be available, period. But we’re not celebrating yet.

Now that Bill 505 has been defeated, stakeholders can get back to what they should’ve been doing in applying to request a fishing permit from the Department of Land and Natural Resources. There are just seven permits available and they will only allow capped collection numbers of eight species of fish, of which the Yellow tang is one of them. When and if fishing permits are granted the quota of 200,000 Yellow tangs will be split equally into 28,571 fish per permit. These will then make their way through the global supply chain and hopefully end up in an aquatic store near you. But note, they haven’t been granted yet. 


Kole tangs are listed to come back if permits are issued and no further legal action ensues.

“This doesn’t mean we are out of the woods as there is a companion bill in the house (which has not been scheduled) and the ever-looming “gut and replace” tactic,” a source involved in the legal battle told Reef Builders. “Gut and replace” occurs when late in session a bill in Hawaii is stripped of all original content and replaced with an entirely different topic that has no rational connection to the original bill. The bill becomes unrecognizable and is pushed through the Legislature without required readings. 

The tactic deprives the public of any meaningful voice in the legislative process and also deprives legislators of receiving adequate notice and time to thoroughly review the consequences of proposed legislation prior to voting, according to Common Cause Hawaii. So as ever, the whole thing is on a knife edge and we completely understand why the stakeholders who are fighting for ornamental fish collection and against the latest Bill 505 to ban it literally have to take it one day at a time and aren’t celebrating anything just yet. 

We're keeping our fingers crossed at Nemo's Reef to one day see the beloved Yellow Tangs swimming in our tanks.

Source: Jeremy Gay at Reefbuilders