Tyron and Kacie Terazono, of Kealakekua, Big Island, were fined $76,400 after being caught at Kawaihae Small Boat Harbor on Feb. 20, 2020 with 550 live tropical fish of 10 species in their vessel’s hold, along with aquarium fishing gear. The Terazonos were charged with violating the Hawai‘i Administrative Rules which prohibit the possession of aquarium collecting gear or the possession of aquatic life for aquarium purposes in the West Hawai‘i Regional Fisheries Management Area without a permit, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. Photo courtesy of DLNR

Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Crabtree ruled last week that all commercial aquarium fishing is completely banned in the State of Hawaiʻi, unless and until the aquarium fishing industry has completed the Chapter 343 environmental review process, according to a news release from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The Jan. 12 ruling was made in response to a request by aquarium fishing opponents.

Anyone who takes marine life for commercial purposes must have a commercial marine license issued by  DLNR, Division of Aquatic Resources. This requirement applies to all kinds of take of aquatic resources, including commercial aquarium collection. More than 3,000 CMLs are outstanding. Forty one CML holders reported aquarium catch in 2020. The Court’s ruling explains that none of the current CMLs may be used for commercial aquarium collection. The ruling does not affect other types of commercial fishing or taking of marine life.

“Commercial aquarium collection has been controversial for many years in Hawaiʻi. Various court orders over the years have narrowed the allowed scope of the industry. The DLNR has faithfully implemented those orders and will now faithfully implement this ruling completely banning the industry without an approved EIS,” DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said.

DAR is in the process of notifying CML holders about the Court’s ruling.

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