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Tuesday, December 1, 2020
Court Clamps Down Even Harder on Aquarium Fishing Activities Near Billionaire Vacation Homes
By News Release @ 2:18 AM :: 2823 Views :: Environment, Small Business


News Release from DLNR, Nov 30, 2020

(HONOLULU) – The Department of Land and Natural Resources is taking immediate steps to comply with a new order issued late Friday from the First Circuit Court, requiring Chapter 343 environmental review for issuance of new or renewed annual commercial marine licenses (CMLs) to be used for aquarium fishing purposes under HRS 189-2. 

This is in addition to the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court’s 2017 ruling requiring Chapter 343 environmental review for issuance of fine-mesh net permits used for aquarium fishing under HRS 188-31. “The court agrees with DLNR that Umberger did not specifically address or resolve the issue of whether HRS 189-2 permits are an “action” for purposes of HEPA.”

Immediately, the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) will not renew or issue new CMLs without a condition prohibiting the taking of marine life for aquarium fishing purposes until Chapter 343 environmental review is completed.

41 commercial marine licensees of the approximate 3,000 CMLs currently report aquarium catch. 

The court declined to issue an injunction at this time stopping aquarium fishing under existing CMLs, which are issued for a year at a time. “The court therefore declines to issue an injunction at this time, without prejudice. Plaintiffs may file a further motion requesting injunctive relief if they so choose.” 

The court recognized that an immediate ban would “cause economic hardship to aquarium fishers, their families, employees, and vendors” particularly now, during the pandemic.

DLNR Director Suzanne Case pointed to several high-profile aquarium fishing enforcement busts on Hawai‘i island this year that were the result of tips from concerned community members. These cases are still in the courts and DLNR civil violation systems.  In the meantime, DLNR is encouraging anyone who suspects illegal aquarium fishing to report it immediately to the DLNR 24-hour violation hotline or via the free DLNR Tip app. “We continue to take illegal aquarium fishing seriously.  We want people to continue to report any illegal activity,” Case said. 

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News Release from DLNR, Dec 8, 2020

(HONOLULU) – The DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) has updated commercial marine licenses (CML) terms and conditions to reflect a full statewide ban on commercial aquarium fishing until final environmental review, as required by a Nov. 27th First Circuit Court ruling. 

While the final court order may include further details on how DAR should institute the court requirements, DAR has already updated commercial marine licenses (CML) terms and conditions. 

This section, (along with related definitions), has been added: 

7. It is illegal and a violation of this commercial marine license to:
a. take marine life for commercial aquarium purposes,
b. possess marine life that has been taken for commercial aquarium purposes, or
c. possess aquarium collecting gear in state marine waters for commercial aquarium purposes, without first completing the required environmental review process under the Hawaiʻi Environmental Policy Act (HEPA), HRS Chapter 343.   

The court’s ruling confirmed DLNR’s interpretation of a 2017 ruling (Umberger) that HEPA requirements only applied to fine-mesh permits (the primary net type used in commercial aquarium collecting). “The court agrees with DLNR that Umberger did not specially address or resolve the issue of whether CML are an “action” for purposes of HEPA review.” The latest court ruling added the further requirements of HEPA review for all commercial aquarium fishing, regardless of the collection method. 

“All CMLs issued or renewed on November 27, 2020, or later will include terms and conditions that prohibit the take or possession of marine life for commercial aquarium purposes, including the possession of aquarium fishing gear for commercial aquarium purposes, without completing a HEPA review.” 

 # # #

CB:  New Court Ruling Further Restricts Commercial Aquarium Fishing In Hawaii  

WHT: Court ruling closes loophole for commercial aquarium collection


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