Honolulu, Hawaii


RE: S.B. No. 931

S.D. 1




Honorable Ronald D. Kouchi

President of the Senate

Thirtieth State Legislature

Regular Session of 2019

State of Hawaii




Your Committee on Water and Land, to which was referred S.B. No. 931 entitled:




begs leave to report as follows:


The purpose and intent of this measure is to prohibit all commercial capture of aquatic life for aquarium purposes, regardless of the method of collection, and allow the following practices to continue:


(1) Issuance of special activity permits pursuant to section 187A-6, Hawaii Revised Statutes;


(2) Issuance of recreational permits for non-commercial capture of aquatic life for aquarium purposes, in accordance with existing laws and rulings regarding compliance with environmental assessments;


(3) Captive-breeding and aquaculture efforts, as regulated by section 187A-3.5, Hawaii Revised Statutes; and


(4) The exercise of traditional and customary practices, the lawful taking of fish for consumption or bait, and the lawful management or taking of aquatic life from fishponds.


Your Committee received testimony in support of this measure from Friends of Hanauma Bay, Moana Ohana, The Humane Society of the United States, West Hawaii Humane Society, Hawaii Reef and Ocean Coalition, Young Progressives Demanding Action, Free Access Coalition, Live Freyly Sanctuary, For the Fishes, Animal Rights Hawaii, Ho'omanapono Political Action Committee, Maui Land & Water Planning LLC., Kihei Community Association, Oahu County Committee on Legislative Priorities of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club Moku Loa Group, Surfrider Foundation, Keiko Conservation, and over two hundred fifty individuals. Your Committee received testimony in opposition to this measure from the Hunting, Farming, and Fishing Association; Marine Conservation Science Institute; Tropical Fish Emporium LLC; Association of Zoos and Aquariums; Hawaii Fishermen's Alliance for Conservation and Tradition, Inc.; Hawaii Tropical Fish Association; Hawaiian Reefdwellers; The Shark Reef; Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council; and over fifty-six individuals. Your Committee received comments on this measure from the Department of Land and Natural Resources.


Your Committee finds that it is important for the State to have an unbiased environmental impact statement and comprehensive cultural assessment on the impacts of aquarium fishing on the natural resources and culture of Hawaii before lawmakers can make any long-term decisions regarding the aquarium fishing industry. Your Committee finds that to allow the commercial trade to continue in a manner that adversely impacts marine resources would be contrary to effective marine resource management and traditional Hawaiian practices.


Your Committee has amended this measure by:


(1) Limiting the prohibition on harvesting aquatic life for commercial aquarium purposes to only harvesting that is done by using a fine-mesh net or fine-mesh trap in any state marine waters, with certain exceptions, and extending this prohibition to persons operating under a commercial marine license;


(2) Inserting language to prohibit any person from possessing a fine-mesh net or fine-mesh trap on their person or within a vessel within state marine waters or on or about the shore where fish can be taken, and impose a $5,000 fine for a violation;


(3) Defining "fine-mesh" as the rhombic (diamond-shaped) opening enclosed by four bars of twines or equal length at the four corners where the opening is less than three centimeters measured between corners when the mesh is stretched;


(4) Inserting language to require the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii (RCUH) to prepare an environmental impact statement to evaluate the impacts of the Department of Land and Natural Resources' issuance of commercial aquarium permits on Oahu and West Hawaii;


(5) Inserting language to require the RCUH to complete a comprehensive cultural impact assessment in coordination with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Native Hawaiian organizations, including but not limited to the Aha Moku Advisory Committee and Hunting, Farming, and Fishing Association;


(6) Requiring the RCUH to submit a progress report to the Legislature no later than twenty days prior to the Regular Session of 2020;


(7) Requiring the Governor to be the accepting authority and to accept the environmental impact statement no later than twenty days prior to the Regular Session of 2021; and


(8) Inserting language to require the Department of Land and Natural Resources to establish a marine aquarium fishing advisory group to guide the RCUH and Office of Hawaiian Affairs toward completion of the environmental impact statement and cultural impact assessment;


(9) Amending section 1 to reflect its amended purpose;


    (10) Inserting an appropriation of $500,000;


    (11) Changing the effective date to July 1, 2019;


    (12) Inserting a repeal date of June 30, 2021; and


    (13) Making technical, nonsubstantive amendments for the purposes of clarity and consistency.


As affirmed by the record of votes of the members of your Committee on Water and Land that is attached to this report, your Committee is in accord with the intent and purpose of S.B. No. 931, as amended herein, and recommends that it pass Second Reading in the form attached hereto as S.B. No. 931, S.D. 1, and be referred to your Committee on Judiciary.


Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committee on Water and Land,