S.B. NO.














relating to aquatic life.





SECTION 1. The legislature finds that aquatic life is in decline in areas that have not been designated as fish replenishment areas. According to the 2014 department of land and natural resources report entitled, "Report on the Findings and Recommendations of Effectiveness of the West Hawaii Regional Fishery Management Area" ("2014 DLNR Report"), populations of native near shore species have disappeared as increasing threats from climate change, ocean acidification, habitat degradation, and pollution diminish prospects for their proliferation.

The legislature also finds that except for limited protected areas, the law allows an unlimited number of permits to be issued. Further, there is no limit on the taking of most aquatic life. The legislature finds that "sustainable" as it relates to aquatic life remains undefined, and sustainability is not a factor that is considered by the State when issuing licenses for commercial collection of aquatic life.

According to the 2014 DLNR Report, the State's marine aquarium fishery, the State's most economically valuable commercial inshore fishery, reported landings valued greater than $2,300,000 in fiscal year 2014. The commercial aquarium industry targets herbivorous aquatic species, such as yellow tangs, which comprise sixty-five to eighty per cent of the trade's aquatic life removal.

Herbivorous fish play a significant role in maintaining the resiliency of coral reefs as they exert strong top-down pressure on macro algae growth on the reef, and the decline in wild herbivore populations is a known stressor to coral reefs. Scientists estimate in "Recovery Potential of the World's Coral Reef Fishes", MacNeil et al., Nature, April 2015, that the time needed for a moderately fished coral reef to recover is approximately thirty-five years and as many as fifty-nine years for more depleted reefs. Their findings demonstrate that a range of fisheries restrictions can help reefs recover.

The legislature finds that it is critical that the State leave healthy aquatic life on the reefs. The State's economy is inextricably tied to its marine environment, and the economic and environmental benefits of reef protection go far beyond tourist dollars that currently drive the economy. Herbivore populations that have declined or disappeared in Hawaii must be restored to promote reef recovery and the socioeconomic well-being of our people.

The purpose of this Act is to place a moratorium on the issuance of commercial aquarium fish permits to allow the department of land and natural resources to define "sustainable" and establish sustainable collection practices and limits, for legislative adoption, to ensure the sustainability of Hawaii's native near shore aquatic life.

SECTION 2. (a) The department of land and natural resources shall not issue an aquarium fish permit for the taking of near shore aquatic life for aquarium purposes, pursuant to section 188-31, Hawaii Revised Statutes, until the following conditions are met:

(1) The department of land and natural resources submits proposed legislation to the legislature including a definition of "sustainable", a policy for sustainable collection practices of near shore aquatic life, and limits on the total number of species and sustainable rates of collection; and

(2) A definition of "sustainable" and a policy for sustainable collection practices of near shore aquatic life, including limits on the total number of species and sustainable rates of collection, are enacted.

(b) The department of land and natural resources shall promote research and education on the State's near shore aquatic life and work to increase aquatic life health and numbers to historical levels.

(c) This Act shall not prohibit:

(1) Any person exercising native Hawaiian gathering rights and traditional cultural practices as authorized by law or as permitted by the department of land and natural resources pursuant to article XII, section 7, of the state constitution;

(2) The taking of fish or other aquatic life for human consumption or for sale for human consumption, including the taking of fish for bait; and

(3) Special activity permits granted pursuant to section l87A-6, Hawaii Revised Statutes; provided that the department of land and natural resources may impose limitations or conditions on special activity permits for the taking of near shore aquatic life in designated limited-entry areas.

(d) For the purposes of this Act:

"Aquatic life" has the same meaning as defined in section 187A-1, Hawaii Revised Statutes.

"Near shore" means up to three miles from the shoreline.

SECTION 3. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.






















Report Title:

Hawaii Aquatic Life Protection; Aquarium Fish Permits; Moratorium; Sustainability



Places a moratorium on aquarium fish permits until a definition of "sustainable" and sustainable practices and limits are proposed to the legislature and enacted.




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