(BIVN) – A few days before making the official announcement that they were ending the taking of aquarium fish in connection with the commercial pet trade, state officials tried to explain the situation to lawmakers.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources announced on January 5th 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.
From the DLNR:
The court ruled on September 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 Bruce Anderson, Administrator of the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources.
“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. 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,” said Anderson.
A few days before the news release, legislators pressed DLNR officials on the possible implications for the other commercial permits issued by the state.
“I think we don’t know. It would be a challenge if all our permitting required this kind of environmental review,” DLNR Chair Suzanne Case answered. “So far we’re just trying to sort out the aquarium part of it. But it’s definitely worthy of a broader discussion.”
Aquatic division head Anderson told the lawmakers that DLNR planned to draw up new legislation to address the situation.