Late yesterday, the Hawaii State Land and Natural Resources Board rejected an environmental impact statement to reopen the pet aquarium trade in O’ahu. Last year, the council rejected the aquarium industry’s initial EIA to reopen the aquarium collection in West Hawai’i for many of the same reasons, including a lack of scientific basis for the industry position that collecting commercial aquariums is a long-term, sustainable business.
“This O’ahu EIA relied on the same biased methods used in western Hawai’i, and on top of that, tried to turn an entirely new proposal into a final EIA to evade the ‘environmental review,’ said Earthjustice attorney Mahesh Cleveland. “We commend the Council for obeying the law in rejecting this procedurally and scientifically flawed document. ”
Compared to the industry’s draft EIA, the final EIA proposed a significant increase in the capture of marine life and a massive take of species that had not been assessed in the draft.
The Board concluded that the O’ahu EIA did not disclose the true environmental and other damages of commercial aquarium collection, as required by law. Board members noted that the proposed new measure was not included for public review and comment in the initial draft of the EIA, and further noted major gaps in the cultural impact assessment of the EIA. trade.
“Going back to the drawing board was the only option for this EIS,” said René Umberger, Executive Director of For the Fishes. “The lack of analysis for Kāne’ohe Bay, which is already under the most collection pressure, was a glaring omission. The industry’s plan allowed for the capture of nearly 293,000 fish and invertebrates each year in Kāne’ohe Bay or any other area around O’ahu. Hawaii’s unique places and communities deserve better.
“The O’ahu reefs are in crisis,” said Maxx Phillips, Director and Counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity in Hawai’i. “Our reefs are the lifelines of our ocean. They put food on our families’ tables, provide habitat for a myriad of endemic species, and protect our islands from increasingly intense storms and rising sea levels. room for false narratives, biased analysis or outdated industry science in the fight to protect Hawai’i for generations to come.
“To restore the beauty and abundance of our reef, reef wildlife and our ‘ohana ocean, people and agencies must work hand in hand for the greater good of Hawaii,” said Kealoha Pisciotta by Kai Palaoa. “I am grateful that the Board of Directors did not bow to the pressure from the aquarium industry and once again listened to the voices of our people.”
O’ahu was once the epicenter of Hawaii’s aquarium pet trade. When overfishing caused the collapse of O’ahu’s inshore fishery in the 1980s, trade shifted largely to western Hawai’i, but the industry nonetheless maintained a presence on O ‘ahu. Currently, collection from commercial aquariums is prohibited statewide under various court orders and injunctions, pending the appropriate completion of the environmental review process required by law.