Sunday, May 24, 2020
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Tuesday, January 28, 2020
Save Billionaires Row: Tourism Industry Activists Sue DLNR Over Aquarium Fishing (again)
By Andrew Walden @ 11:25 AM :: 1486 Views :: Hawaii County , Environment, Greenmail, Small Business, Tourism

NATIVE HAWAIIANS AND CONSERVATIONISTS SUE HAWAI‘I AGENCY FOR RAMPANT AQUARIUM COLLECTION HARMING HAWAI‘I’S REEFS

After a 2017 Hawai‘i Supreme Court decision requiring environmental review of aquarium collection, state agency created loopholes for industry

News Release from EarthJustice, January 27, 2020 (With snippets of reality inserted in parenthesis.)

Honolulu, HI — Today, a coalition of Native Hawaiians and conservation groups (Flacking for the Tourism Industry) filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) for allowing the unregulated extraction of fish and other aquatic wildlife from Hawai‘i’s reefs by the aquarium pet trade without any environmental review (instead of outlawing it.) A landmark decision from the Hawai‘i Supreme Court and subsequent circuit court injunction in 2017 required DLNR to stop issuing permits for commercial aquarium collection until the agency examined the environmental impacts. Instead, the agency created a loophole to allow the industry to sidestep the court rulings and carry on without permits, resulting in the extraction of more than half a million marine animals from Hawai‘i reefs over the past two years.  (And there are still plenty of fish in the ocean for dive tour operators to show gawking tourists.)

Earthjustice is representing a coalition of community groups and Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners (tourism industry flacks who are deeply concerned about aquarium fishing near billionaires row on the Kona coast), including For the Fishes (to which billionaires may contribute megabux), Willie and Ka‘imi Kaupiko, Mike Nakachi, and the Center for Biological Diversity (to which billionaires may also contribute megabux) in the lawsuit against DLNR for violations of the environmental review law (called the Hawai‘i Environmental Policy Act or HEPA), state aquarium collection laws, and the public trust doctrine under the Hawai‘i Constitution. The lawsuit comes weeks after the coalition alerted DLNR of its wrongdoings, (threatened to sue) but the agency did not respond or take any actions to correct course.

“We’re going to court today to safeguard Hawai‘i’s treasured marine life (billionaires’ playground) against an absentee agency that insists on giving the aquarium industry (little people) free rein to strip our (billionaires’) reefs and export our marine life to mainland hobbyists,” said Earthjustice attorney Mahesh Cleveland. “Half a million marine animals in two years is devastating for our reefs (nothing, really), and just scandalous in light of the courts’ instructions to halt aquarium collection until the agency and industry fully come to grips with the environmental impacts of what they’re doing.”

“We were shocked to learn that under the agency’s watch, the industry has continued ravaging Hawai‘i’s reefs without any assessment of environmental harm, despite the courts’ rulings,” said (dive tour flack) Rene Umberger, Executive Director of For the Fishes. “Taking hundreds of thousands of marine animals for private profits (purportedly interferes with dive tour operators profits – or at least makes them nervous - and therefore) obviously requires public scrutiny and accountability under the environmental review process.”

“The state has a duty to ensure our reefs can feed us for generations to come, not to line the aquarium pet trade’s pockets.” said Ka‘imi Kaupiko, who regularly fishes with his family in Miloli‘i, the state’s last traditional Hawaiian fishing village. “These collectors are taking food off of our tables, and the state is doing nothing to ensure the industry’s practices are sustainable.”

Miloli’i Reality: “Abject Poverty Speckled with Methamphetamines.”

“Hawai‘i’s reefs are the lifeblood of Kānaka Maoli and our communities,” said Mike Nakachi, a Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner. “We simply can’t afford to allow the aquarium trade to continue lawlessly, putting private profits over the health and protection of our public trust resources.”

(Translation: OHA isn’t getting paid.)

“(We want you to pretend to believe that) The agency’s decision to deregulate the aquarium trade threatens Hawai‘i’s precious reef ecosystems, which (we want you to pretend to believe) are already at risk due to climate change,” said Maxx Phillips, Hawai‘i Director of the Center for Biological Diversity (without laughing).

AN ILLEGAL LOOPHOLE FOR THE AQUARIUM TRADE

The Hawai‘i Supreme Court ruled in 2017 that commercial aquarium collection under permits (near billionaires row) is subject to environmental review under the Hawai‘i Environmental Policy Act, and the Circuit Court then voided all permits and ordered a moratorium on renewing or issuing new aquarium collection permits pending the environmental review process. But in response, DLNR has effectively deregulated the aquarium pet trade by continuing to issue and renew commercial marine licenses to aquarium collectors without first requiring aquarium collection permits or environmental review, as long as collectors say they don’t use fine-meshed gear.

DLNR’s loophole has enabled the aquarium trade to harvest more than half a million marine animals without any environmental review over the past two years, continuing business as usual for the industry and sidestepping the courts’ rulings (and nobody noticed because there really isn’t any harm). The loophole raises further suspicions, however, because such continued rates of extraction would be extremely difficult without using fine-meshed gear, which has always been the primary means for gathering aquarium fish (and yet we haven’t caught anyone doing this). Yet DLNR has done nothing to verify what kind of equipment the aquarium collectors are actually using.

The collected animals are primarily herbivorous reef-dwellers that serve important functions in the coral reef ecosystem, such as helping to control algae growth. Studies have shown that reducing the abundance and diversity of reef fish and important invertebrates affects a reef’s ability to respond to stresses or disturbances.  (Studies have also shown that the aquarium trade is waaaay too small to have any measurable effect, but just ignore that.)

Meanwhile, DLNR is overseeing the ongoing court-ordered environmental review process for West Hawai‘i and O‘ahu. But the recently issued draft environmental impact statement only looks at collection with fine-meshed gear and does not address the impacts of DLNR’s manufactured loophole for other types of gear either now or in the future.  (So we admit there must be some other type of gear.)

---30---

PDF:  Complaint

SA: State agency has not protected reef fish, lawsuit says 

B: Hawaii Improperly Allows Catching Fish for Aquariums, Suit Says

TGI: DLNR draws lawsuit

Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

808 Silent Majority

808 State Update AM940

ABCDEFG Blog

ACA Signups Hawaii

ACCE

ALEC

Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Life Advocates

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

American Mothers of Hawaii

AMVETS-Hawaii

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Audit The Rail

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii 

Blaisdell Memorial Project

Broken Trust 

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

CAFR Hawaii

Castaway Conservative

Children's Alliance Hawaii

Children's Rights Institute

ChinaTownWatch.com

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Citizens for Recall

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

Coffee Break

CSIS Pacific Forum

DAR Hawaii

DeedySupport.com

DVids Hawaii

E Hana Kakou Kelii Akina

E Māua Ola i Moku o Keawe

Farmers For Choice Hawaii

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

Follow the Money Hawaii

Frank in Hawaii

Front Page Magazine

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Get Off Your Butts!

God, Freedom, America

Grassroot Institute

Habele.org

Hawaii Aganst Assisted Suicide

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crime Victims' Rights

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defending Marriage

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Families for Educational Choice

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Firearm Community

Hawaii Fishermen's Alliance

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii Meth Project

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Right to Life -- Big Island

Hawaii Right to Life -- Oahu

Hawaii Shield Law Coalition

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

Heritage Foundation

HI Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

HIEC.Coop 

HiFiCo

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Homeless Crisis

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

Horns of Jericho Blog

House Minority Blog

House Republican Caucus YouTube

HPACC

Hump Day Report

I Vote Hawaii

If Hawaii News

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

Iowa Meets Maui

Jackson v Abercrombie

Jihad Watch

July 4 in Hawaii

Kahle v New Hope

Kakaako Cares

Kau TEA Party

Kauai Co GOP

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

KeyWiki

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Middle East Forum--The Legal Project

Mililani Conservatives for Change

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

Muslim Brotherhood in America

NAMI Hawaii

NARTH

Natatorium.org

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

National Wind Watch

New Zeal

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Northwest Economic Policy Seminar

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

Now What I Really Think

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

ObamaCare Abortion Hawaii

Obookiah

OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

OurFutureHawaii.com

Pacific Aviation Museum

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons 

Pro-GMO Hawaii

P.U.E.O.

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Republican Party -- Hawaii State

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

SIFE Remington

SIFE W. Oahu 

Sink the Jones Act

Smart About Marijuana--Hawaii

St Marianne Cope

State Budget Solutions Hawaii

State Policy Network

Statehood for Guam

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Harriet Tubman Agenda

The Long War Journal

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

Truth About Trade & Technology - Hawaii

UCC Truths

Union Members Know Your Rights

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

Valor in the Pacific

VAREP Honolulu

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii

Yes2TMT