Eco Groups Testify Against New Aquarium Fish Laws
by Ron Tubbs
Why would "eco groups" wanting further ocean protections testify against new aquarium fish laws at yesterday’s hearings? They asked for many of these same laws in the state legislature. Why not support these rules they so desperately tried to get in the past?
They do not want to protect fish. They only want to eliminate fishermen who stand in the way of their ocean based businesses. In fact they filed a lawsuit against DLNR to force them to require EIS studies for the aquarium fish permits. If the fishery is not well managed, then they have more of a case to eliminate the fishery. DLNR researchers have said all along that it is a user group conflict.
Ocean law states that "ocean resources are the common heritage of man" and that no single group can lay claim to its resources. The State of Hawaii and DLNR has the job of managing and regulating ocean activities. It is not to force out or eliminate user groups just because one group does not want them there. It is mandated to study and protect ocean resources for all user groups.
The State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources and its Division of Aquatic Resources is in charge of managing all ocean activities. It is well within its legal right to require EIS or EA assessments at its discretion. DLNR continues to enacted new regulations almost yearly to regulate fisheries. It is very active in ocean management.
A large staff of well qualified Marine Biologists and millions of dollars in fish counts and aquarium fish studies have shown that the aquarium fishery is sustainable and does not require further EIS studies. Monthly monitoring of the fishery with fish catch reports also has show no major increase in catch, number of collectors or declines due to over fishing. Just the opposite, fish count studies in West Kona show fish populations have increased for yellow tangs and kole--the two most collected species for aquariums. These fish count increases are due to DLNR doing its job.
Permits are issued by DLNR to ocean users, tour group operators and fishermen. By suing the DLNR, all DLNR issued permits are at risk of EIS requirements. The near-sightedness of some ocean user groups may find out soon they may also be required to do an EIS study to get a permit. These groups could force DLNR impose EIS regulations to all hunting, tourist and fishing permits. They are going down a dangerous path which may cost the state and ultimately you as a tax payer millions in revenue and management--and all not for some real scientific reasons.
It is a shame that all groups cannot work together to protect our oceans resources. Some have lost sight of what really matters.