After years of rumblings, annual temblors with threats of legislation, and constant prophesies of doom for Hawaiian aquarium fishers—as well as mounting calls for a total ban on the marine aquarium trade—a landmark law has just been passed that will bring a sea change in the way a unique resource is used and managed in the volcanic islands of Hawaii.
The law will affect the West Hawaii Regional Fishery, the state’s largest exporter of fishes for the aquarium trade, aka the “AQ Fishery,” which is based on Big Island. The new legislation is the result of many calls for the abolishment of all livestock collection by anti-aquarium activists, as well as urgent proposals from marine scientists to enact science-based rules. While some fish collectors have resisted all change, many others have supported the implementation of workable rules and regulations to protect the fisheries and their own livelihoods. Some observers expect the legislation to spread, in one form or another, to other jurisdictions in the Aloha State.
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