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Citizens And Conservation Groups File Suit to Protect Hawai'I's Reef Ecosystems


Animals  (tags: AnimalWelfare, animals, habitat, protection, pets, wildanimals, wildlife, law, ethics, environment, science, research, water, oceans, nature, ecosystems )

JL
- 704 days ago - earthjustice.org
Citizens and conservation groups took legal action today to require the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources to protect Hawaiʻi's reefs and coastal areas from unlimited collection of fish and other wildlife for the aquarium trade.



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JL A. (275)
Sunday November 18, 2012, 6:49 am

Earthjustice

Citizens And Conservation Groups File Suit to Protect Hawai‘i’s Reef Ecosystems
State issuance of aquarium collection permits without environmental review poses danger to already-stressed coral reefs
October 24, 2012
Honolulu, HI —
State issuance of aquarium collection permits without environmental review poses danger to already-stressed coral reefs
Honolulu, HI
Contact:
Caroline Ishida, Earthjustice, (808) 599-2436
Marjorie Ziegler, Conservation Council for Hawaiʻi
Rene Umberger, (808) 875-8759
October 24, 2012

Citizens and conservation groups took legal action today to require the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources to protect Hawaiʻi’s reefs and coastal areas from unlimited collection of fish and other wildlife for the aquarium trade. Specifically, the groups are asking DLNR to conduct environmental reviews—including an examination of cumulative damage to the state’s reefs—before granting permits that allow unlimited aquarium collection of marine wildlife in coastal waters.

Aquarium collector taking fish off of Hawai`i reef. (Brooke Everett)
Aquarium collector taking fish off of Hawai`i reef. (Brooke Everett)
Photo can be re-used with attribution to Brooke Everett. Larger image.
View a slideshow of species targeted by the aquarium trade in Hawaiʻi.

Earthjustice filed the complaint under the Hawaiʻi Environmental Policy Act in the First Circuit Court on behalf of Rene Umberger, Mike Nakachi, Kaimi Kaupiko, Willie Kaupiko, Conservation Council for Hawaiʻi, The Humane Society of the United States, and the Center for Biological Diversity.

“DLNR owes it to the people of Hawaiʻi to take a hard look at the effects of aquarium collection on our coral reefs before it allows these ecologically-valuable animals to be shipped to the mainland for private profit,” said Earthjustice attorney Caroline Ishida.

Aquarium collectors capture hundreds of thousands of fish and invertebrates from Hawaiʻi’s reefs every year. Alarmingly, DLNR has stated that this should be considered a minimum estimate because it does not verify the accuracy of submitted catch reports.

The collected animals are primarily herbivorous, reef-dwellers that serve unique functions in the coral reef ecosystem, such as helping to control algae growth. Studies have shown that reducing diversity of reef fish and shellfish affects a reef’s ability to respond to stresses or disturbances. This is vitally important as reefs come under serious pressure from global threats, including climate change and ocean acidification. DLNR has not conducted any studies showing how its policy of handing out permits for the asking will affect Hawaiʻi’s reefs over time.

The complaint seeks a court order to force the state to comply with the Hawaiʻi Environmental Policy Act’s requirement to examine aquarium collection’s effects on the environment before issuing collection permits. The complaint also asks the court to halt collection under existing commercial aquarium permits and to stop DLNR from issuing new permits until the environmental review is complete.

“Our coral reefs are among Hawaiʻi’s most precious resources, and DLNR should have all of the available information about aquarium collection before deciding whether to issue these permits,” said Marjorie Ziegler, of Conservation Council for Hawaiʻi.

There is currently no limit on the number of aquarium permits that DLNR can issue and no limit on the number of animals a commercial collector can take under a permit. Aquarium collection can occur anywhere in the state, except in designated protected areas, but primarily occurs in waters around Oʻahu and along the west coast of the island of Hawaiʻi. DLNR has expressed concern in official reports over the increasing number of collectors in the state and the growing number of animals harvested from the reefs by the aquarium trade.

“I have done thousands of scuba dives on reefs around the state over the years, and I have seen a noticeable difference in reef health between areas that are open to collection and those where collection is prohibited,” said Rene Umberger. “DLNR needs to fulfill its basic public duty to examine this practice before issuing permits that allow collectors to remove many thousands of animals from the reefs every year, particularly because of the global stresses reefs are facing.”

Read the complaint.

Some of the species being targeted:

Bandit Angelfish (Robert Wintner)
Bandit Angelfish (© Robert Wintner).
Photo cannot be re-used without the express permission of the photographer.
View a slideshow of species targeted by the aquarium trade in Hawaiʻi.

Yellow Tang (Robert Wintner)
Yellow Tang (© Robert Wintner).
Photo cannot be re-used without the express permission of the photographer.
View a slideshow of species targeted by the aquarium trade in Hawaiʻi.

Dragon Eel (Robert Wintner)
Dragon Eel (© Robert Wintner).
Photo cannot be re-used without the express permission of the photographer.
View a slideshow of species targeted by the aquarium trade in Hawaiʻi.

Contact:
Caroline Ishida, Earthjustice, (808) 599-2436
Marjorie Ziegler, Conservation Council for Hawaiʻi
Rene Umberger, (808) 875-8759
URL: http://earthjustice.org/news/press/2012/citizens-and-conservation-groups-file-suit-to-protect-hawai-i-s-reef-ecosystems
 

Teresa W. (693)
Sunday November 18, 2012, 6:50 am
thank you
 

JL A. (275)
Sunday November 18, 2012, 8:05 am
You are welcome Teresa.
 

John B. (173)
Sunday November 18, 2012, 5:17 pm
Thanks J.L. for the post. Reads as if the DLNR has no regulations regard this at all and very little oversite. Good to know the citizens, Earthjustice, Conservation Council for Hawaiʻi, The Humane Society of the United States, and the Center for Biological Diversity have stepped up to get the DLNR on the ball. Read and noted.
 

JL A. (275)
Sunday November 18, 2012, 5:31 pm
You are welcome John--it read that way to me, too, I'm sad to say, Thank heavens there are nonprofits looking out for us and seeking the accountability we all expect when there are such laws, responsibilities, etc.
 

Danuta Watola (1206)
Monday November 19, 2012, 6:24 am
Noted
 

Giana Peranio-Paz (385)
Tuesday November 20, 2012, 12:27 am
Thanks J.L.A. It's good to know someone cares and does something about it.
 

Birgitta S. (230)
Tuesday November 20, 2012, 1:50 am
TY for this one, J.L.A
 

JL A. (275)
Tuesday November 20, 2012, 9:57 am
You are welcome Giana and Bee.
 
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