Hawaii Passes Laws Creating White List and Bag Limits for Aquarium Fish


Yellow Eye Kole Tang

At the end of June, the Hawaiian Board of Land and Natural Resources, with a 4-2 vote, passed new laws limiting collecting of fish for the aquarium trade to a 40 species “white list” for the Big Island. In addition to the creation of a white list, three of the species found on that list will also have specific bag limits, which are detailed below. Along with the white list, the vote also puts an outright ban on spear fishing with SCUBA gear for West Hawaiian waters.

This list and its bag limits are a bit confusing and seem incomplete. Regardless, they may not even have an impact on the number of fish being imported into the hobby. This white list is for the Big Island of Hawaii only, including West Hawaii, but other areas won’t share the same legislation, at least for now. Other counties may adopt a similar set of rules and regulations, which could really handcuff the trade throughout the state. 

All that said, I do not see any big issues with a white list or bag limits, to be quite honest. The white list is what bothers me the most, as it prevents certain species that could be eventually aquacultured from ever reaching that status, and it excludes other fish that might be in an extreme abundance, but merely left out.

Below are bag limits and the 40-species white list, both taken from Fish Channel.

Bag Limits

  • Yellow Tangs: no more than five larger than 4.5 inches or five smaller than 2 inches
  • Gldring Surgeonfish (Kole Tang): no more than five per person per day larger than 4 inches
  • Achilles Tang: limit of 10 per person per day

The West Hawaii White List


The following list represents the fish species that may still be taken for the aquarium trade in Hawaii. Fish not on the list are protected.

  • Yellow tang
  • Chevron tang
  • Goldring surgeonfish
  • Achilles tang
  • Tinker’s butterflyfish
  • Orangespine Unicornfish
  • Forecepfish
  • Goldrim surgeonfish
  • Potter’s angelfish
  • Fourspot butterflyfish
  • Yellowtail Coris
  • Ornate Wrasse
  • Orangeband surgeonfish
  • Bird wrasse
  • Eyestripe Surgeonfish
  • Multiband butterflyfish
  • Saddle wrasse
  • Brown surgeonfish
  • Flame wrasse
  • Thompson’s surgeonfish
  • Peacock grouper
  • Bluestripe snapper
  • Redbarred hawkfish
  • Psychedelic wrasse
  • Hawaiian Whitespotted toby
  • Fisher’s angelfish
  • Hawaii Dascyllus
  • Milletseed butterflyfish
  • Blacklip butterflyfish
  • Pyramid butterflyfish
  • Shortnose wrasse
  • Black durgon
  • Spotted boxfish
  • Blackside hawkfish
  • Hawaii longfin anthias
  • Eightline wrasse
  • Fourline wrasse
  • Smalltail wrasse
  • Lei triggerfish
  • Gilded triggerfish

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