Hawaii's Aquarium Fishery: Regulated, Valuable, Sustainable
Published on Nov 20, 2016
This 15-minute documentary: HAWAII’S AQUARIUM FISHERY: REGULATED, VALUABLE, SUSTAINABLE, was released November 20, 2016 by the Big Island Association of Tropical Fishermen.
The program features data, analysis and statements by Hawaii-based marine biologists who affirm that the West Hawaii aquarium fishery is sustainable and valuable.
- Aquarium fish collecting started over 40 years ago. Since then not one species has gone extinct, nor are any listed as threatened or endangered.
- Populations of yellow tang and kole have increased by millions of fish since surveys began.
- The Aquarium fishery is economically the most valuable inshore fishery in the state of Hawaii generating over $1.5 million in 2014.
- It is the most intensively managed of all fisheries in the State with restrictions on which species can be collected.
- 35% of the West Hawaii coastline is off-limits where no aquarium fishes can be collected.
Dr. William Walsh, with the State Division of Aquatic Resources, DLNR, explains why the fishery for yellow tangs is sustainable:
1. Adult Yellow Tangs are not collected, allowing brood stock to flourish. They may live up to 40 years.
2. Yellow tangs are not targeted as a food fish, which also allows brood stock to remain intact
3. Fish Replenishment Areas or FRA’s are successful in the management of aquarium-fish populations
Dr. Richard Pyle, from the Bishop Museum and a world-authority on the exploration of coral reefs using rebreather technology, explains the educational value of aquariums, and how his childhood fascination with aquariums inspired him to become a marine biologist.
Dr. Randall Kosaki, NOAA’s Deputy Superintendent of the Papahanaumokuakea National Marine Monument, similarly expresses how the influence of home and public aquariums shaped his career. He emphasizes that aquarium fish collecting has minimal impact on coral reefs compared to real threats such as coral bleaching and ocean pollution.
Other subjects in the program illustrate recent advances in the culture of aquarium fish species, how fish are collected without damaging the reef, and the methods used to transport fish around the world.
The program was produced by Dr. Bruce Carlson, and Les Matsuura, both formerly with the Waikiki Aquarium. The program was funded by the Big Island Association of Tropical Fishermen.