DLNR Halts Aquarium Fish Permits After Hawai‘i High Court Ruling

September 8, 2017, 8:09 AM HST · Updated September 8, 8:11 AM
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The state Department of Land and Natural Resources says it has discontinued the issuance and renewal of aquarium fish permits pending further guidance.

Maui Now file image.

The statement comes a day after the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court issued a ruling granting an injunction prohibiting commercial aquarium collection.

Wednesday’s ruling overturned decisions in the circuit and appeals courts, and sides with citizens and conservation groups who have been fighting to protect the State’s coral reefs from the aquarium industry’s collection and sale of reef fish and other wildlife.

The high court ruling sates that aquarium collection using fine meshed traps or nets is subject to the environmental review procedures provided in the Hawaiʻi Environmental Policy Act.

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The issue has been remanded to the circuit court for further proceedings.

Meantime, the decision was welcomed by several environmental groups.

Teresa Telecky, Ph.D., senior director of the Wildlife Department at Humane Society International, the international affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States, welcomed Wednesday’s decision.

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“The Supreme Court of the State of Hawaiʻi ruled that the collection of animals for the international aquarium trade must be subjected to environmental impact review, which should spare millions of Hawaiʻi’s coral reef animals. We have been trying to stop this unsustainable and cruel trade for nearly a decade. This is major victory for Hawaiʻi’s wildlife and for people who rely on healthy coral reef ecosystems for their survival,” said Telecky.

HSI and HSUS were among the groups to support SB 1240 in Hawaiʻi, a bill that would have limited the capture of reef wildlife for personal aquariums. Despite legislative support, the bill was vetoed by Governor David Ige.

HSUS joined a coalition of conservation and animal protection organizations in this lawsuit against the state for issuing aquarium collection permits in violation of the Hawaiʻi Environmental Policy Act.

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