Hawaii’s Snorkel Bob (aka Robert Wintner) has written a post on the Sea Shepherd blog where he proceeds to blame the collection of reef fishes for the aquarium trade for the decline of Hawaii’s reefs. In his very first paragraph, however, he describes an extremely common non-Hawaiian (and often aquarium-bred) species: “The tentative hobbyist with a ten-gallon tank and one anemone clownfish as seen in Finding Nemo stays in briefly, because anemone clownfish die soon in a small tank.”
Hawaii Senator Josh Green, M.D. (D-Kohala/Kona). a member of four powerful committees including Commerce and Consumer Protection as well Energy and Environment, says he will be introducing a bill in the Hawaii State Legislature to ban collection of all tropical fish in Hawaiian waters.
According to an Associated Press story, Sen. Green says the ban is needed because the numbers of fish around the Big Island and Maui have decreased. The story also quotes the Senator as saying it’s time to restore the Gold Coast – a reference to the formerly huge numbers of Yellow Tangs that populated the western coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, making the water appear “golden” at times due to their numbers.
Whatever your opinion is on the causes of global warming, rising sea surface temperatures are causing well-documented bleaching events once again this year over a wide swath of Indo-Pacific coral reefs – many of which provide the homes for the fishes we commonly see in the aquarium industry.
The Breeder’s Registry has been promoting aquarium breeding of marine fishes and invertebrates since 1992. From the very beginning, there were those in the hobby who expressed concern that if we increased the domestic production of these animals to a great extent, the fishers on the coral reefs would be out of work. Here we are 18 years later and the importation of wild caught aquarium fish and coral still continues to increase. Yet the controversy persists.