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Court Stops West Hawai‘i Fishing Permits Pending Review

January 7, 2018, 8:45 AM HST (Updated January 7, 2018, 8:45 AM)
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The Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources announced that after applying a Hawai‘i Supreme Court ruling from last year to an existing DLNR rule, no aquatic life may be taken for commercial aquarium purposes off West Hawai‘i until an environmental review is completed.

Non-food fish-Yellow Tangs. Photo credit Claudia Christman

The court ruled on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, that an environmental review must first occur before permits can be used to catch aquatic life for the commercial aquarium trade. Following that ruling, State Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey P. Crabtree terminated and canceled all fine mesh net permits. DLNR rules state that a Hawai‘i State Aquarium Permit is also required to take any aquatic life from waters off of West Hawai‘i for commercial aquarium purposes.

“Although the state permit referenced in the rules is not defined, the intent of the Supreme Court decision is clear,” said DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources Administrator Bruce Anderson.

“As a result of these court decisions it is clear that fine mesh nets cannot be used anywhere in Hawai‘i in the commercial aquarium trade until the environmental review process has been completed,” Anderson said. “Given the intent of the court ruling, any taking of aquarium fish or other animals for the commercial pet trade in West Hawai‘i is prohibited until the environmental review has been completed.”

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