Maui News

Organizations Combat Illegal Aquarium Collection

December 31, 2018, 12:24 PM HST
* Updated January 2, 6:36 AM
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Hawaiʻi-based marine and animal protection organizations have joined forces with the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources to make it easier to report illegal aquarium collecting activity across the state.

In September of 2017, the Hawai‘i Supreme Court ruled that state-issued aquarium permits were subject to environmental review under the Hawai‘i Environmental Policy Act.  All permits to take aquatic life for aquariums using fine-meshed nets were declared illegal until an environmental review could be completed.

Numerous organizations, including For the Fishes, Moana ‘Ohana, The Center for Biological Diversity, West Hawai‘i Humane Society, and the DLNR, have combined resources to make it easier to report suspected poaching of reef creatures. Successful prosecution of a poaching case can result in a reward of up to $5,000 for the person or group who provided the tip.

“We are asking for the public’s kōkua (help) in reporting any suspected illegal reef wildlife collection,” Mike Nakachi of Kona-based Moana ‘Ohana explained. “We continue to receive reports from concerned residents alleging illegal capture of our fragile and sacred reef animals. All aquarium fish collection off West Hawai‘i is against the law, regardless of gear type or net size.”

In addition to the DLNRʻs 808-NO-POACH reporting hotline, where anyone can call or text photos of alleged illegal activity, the department also takes tips through its state-wide telephone hotline and free, mobile application.

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“We must all work together to ensure Hawai‘i’s rich marine life are protected from illegal poaching,” said Maxx Phillips, the Center for Biological Diversity’s Hawai‘i director.  “Court orders and regulatory rulings suspending aquarium collecting is a good start, but those laws are meaningless without proper enforcement.”

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Below is a list of ways to report illegal poaching:

  • Call or text (including images/video) to 808-NO-POACH (808-667-6224)
  • Call 808-643-DLNR (808-643-3567)
  • Download the DLNRTip app for android and Apple devices
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