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Organizations Combat Illegal Aquarium Collecting Activities

December 19, 2018, 12:59 PM HST (Updated December 19, 2018, 12:59 PM)
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Hawai‘i-based animal and marine protection organizations have joined forces with the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources to make it easier for people to report illegal aquarium collecting activity across the state.

Report suspicious aquarium trade activities. PC: For the fishes

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 (HEPA). All permits to take aquatic life for aquariums using fine-meshed nets were declared illegal and invalid until an environmental review could be completed.

For the Fishes, Moana ‘Ohana, The Center for Biological Diversity, West Hawai‘i Humane Society, and DLNR have combined resources to make it easy for anyone to report suspected poaching of reef creatures. Successful prosecution of a poaching case can result in a reward of up to $5000 for the person or people who provided the tip.

Mike Nakachi of Kona-based Moana ‘Ohana explained, “We are asking for the public’s kokua (help) in reporting any suspected illegal reef wildlife collection. 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.”

“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.”

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “We appreciate the efforts of these organizations that are working tirelessly to support our enforcement of aquarium collection laws, and to ensure only legal and pono fishing practices are used.”

In addition to the new, 808-NO-POACH reporting hotline, where concerned people can call or text photos and images of alleged illegal activity, DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement also takes tips through its state-wide telephone hotline or free, online application.

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To report suspected illegal take of reef wildlife call or text (including images/video): (808) NO-POACH (808) 667-6224 or call (808) 643-DLNR (808-643-3567) or report them online.

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