Judge Bans All Aquarium Fishing in Hawai‘i

January 13, 2021, 6:40 AM HST
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Aquarium fishing has been banned indefinitely in the state of Hawai‘i.

Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Crabtree on Tuesday ruled that all commercial aquarium fishing is completely banned in Hawaiian waters, unless and until the aquarium fishing industry completes the Chapter 343 environmental review process. The ruling was made in response to a request by aquarium fishing opponents.

Anyone who takes marine life for commercial purposes must have a commercial marine license (CML) issued by the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR). This requirement applies to all kinds of take of aquatic resources, including commercial aquarium collection.

More than 3,000 CMLs are outstanding. A total of 41 CML holders reported aquarium catch in 2020. The court’s ruling explains that none of the current CMLs may be used for commercial aquarium collection. The ruling does not affect other types of commercial fishing or taking of marine life.

“Commercial aquarium collection has been controversial for many years in Hawaiʻi,” said DLNR Chair Suzanne Case. “Various court orders over the years have narrowed the allowed scope of the industry. The DLNR has faithfully implemented those orders and will now faithfully implement this ruling completely banning the industry without an approved EIS.”


DAR is in the process of notifying CML holders about the court’s ruling.

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