Hearing on Bill to Ban Collecting of Hawaiian Fish is Today


Yellow Tang and Wrasses Hiding Under Corals
The ever persistent Hawaiian politicians are back at it. According to Senate Bill 580, it will be illegal for any person to sell any fish or other aquatic animal caught in Hawaiian waters for aquarium purposes. The bill hasn’t been passed yet, but a public hearing on the bill is scheduled for later today.

According to specifics of the bill, not only will it be illegal for anyone to collect and sell livestock for aquarium purposes, but a first time offender can be imprisoned for up to 30 days and fined $1000. Repeat offenders will receive heftier fines and longer imprisonment, up to 90 days max. Interestingly, the bill has some rather odd exclusions. Fish can be caught for religious, cultural, or scientific purposes, as well as human consumption. These exclusions are are quite typical in these situations. However, the part that rubs me the wrong way is the bill allows fish to be caught for bait purposes. So basically, people are allowed to eat fish and use them as bait, but cannot sell them to a hobby whose goal is to actually keep the fish alive. It is absolutely ridiculous that the Hawaiian government will ban fish for aquariums, but doesn’t mind letting them die for other reasons. They are basically saying that aquariums are worse than jabbing a metal hook into fish so that a fisherman can attempt to catch and kill a much larger fish. Reef tourism is bad for corals and fish alike, will we ever see a ban on it? Our hopes aren’t high on that one.

Keep reading below for actual excerpts from the bill and a link to the original.

Senate Bill 580
Selling of aquatic life for aquarium purposes prohibited; penalties; fines.

(a) It shall be unlawful for any person at any time to knowingly or intentionally sell or offer to sell, for aquarium purposes, aquatic life taken from any of the waters within the jurisdiction of the State.

(b) This section shall not apply to a person exercising a customary and traditional right for subsistence, cultural, or religious purposes, subject to the right of the State to regulate that right, including native Hawaiian gathering rights and traditional cultural practices as authorized by law or as permitted by the State pursuant to article XI, section 7 of the Hawaii state constitution.

(c) This section shall not apply to the taking of aquatic life for human consumption or for sale for human consumption, including the use of bait.

(d) This section shall not prohibit special activity permits allowed under section 187A-6; provided that the permit issued is for bona fide scientific or public display purposes.

To view the bill in its entirety, please visit Senate Bill 508.


About Author