HB 483 authorizes administrative inspections within the West Hawaii Regional Fishery Management Area (WHRFMA). While the Bill is not specific to the aquarium fishery, it would affect the aquarium fishery, as it relates to fishers in the largest aquarium fishery in the State. This fact makes HB 483 the eighth aquarium fishery related bill before the Hawaii Legislature this year. The Bill was introduced by Representatives Nicole Lowen, Tom Brower, Richard Creagan, Cindy Evans, Kaniela Ing, Bertrand Kobayashi, Chris Lee, Matthew Lopresti, Sylvia Luke, Scott Nishimoto, Richard Onishi, Scott Saiki, Roy Takumi, Cynthia Thielen, Della Au Belatti, Ty Cullen, Linda Ichiyama, Jarrett Keohokalole, Dee Morikawa, Mark Nakashima, Karl Rhoads, Cliff Tsuji, and Ryan Yamane on 26 January. It was subsequently referred today to the House Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources, & Hawaiian Affairs (OMH) and to the House Committee on Finance (FIN).
The WHRFMA is the largest aquarium fishery in the state, representing about 70% of overall aquarium harvest. Advocates of the Bill maintain that inspection of fisher catch is not authorized in Hawaii without probable cause, and this makes enforcement of existing regulations a challenge. Critics say the Bill is redundant with current law and could create issues with penalties are assigned. Specifically, HB 483 would make “consent to administrative inspection by a duly authorized agent of the department while within the West Hawaii regional fishery management” a condition of any commercial license, permit, or registration. In addition, the premises of any wholesale outlet selling aquatic resources could also be inspected.
“Unfortunately,” the Bill states, “the limited capacity of resources enforcement personnel, and their lack of inspection authority absent evidence establishing probable cause, prevents the department from effectively monitoring compliance with resource regulations to ensure the continued success of the West Hawaii regional fishery management area.”
Eight aquarium fishery-related bills have been introduced into the Hawaii Legislature this year (the others are SB 322, HB511, HB 606, HB 883, SB 670, HB 873 and SB 1340). The bills have all been referred to committee. Stay tuned toThe Good Catch Blog and The Good Catch Blog Facebook page, as well as to CORAL Magazine for the latest on these bills affecting the Hawaii aquarium trade.