Represent Your Reef

Hanau Ka ‘Ukuko’ako’a, Hanau kana he ‘Ako’ako’a, puka”

“Born the coral polyp, Of him a coral colony emerged”

Translation by R. Kawena Johnson

The Kumulipo, the Hawaiian Hymn of Creation, teaches us that reef life is the foundation for all life; when we degrade our source of life, we degrade ourselves and our children’s future.

Our Reef Ohana, is under assault from the aquarium trade which is allowed to take our marine life in limitless numbers and without any real regulation. They exploit some of the most important, rare and threatened species, and sell them to mainland pet stores. The reef wildlife they take are herbivores who are needed to keep our reef ecosystem healthy, clean, and vibrant.

Many of the reef Ohana captured and sold are not only our food fish but our Aumakua (family Guardians) too. For example, the Lau’ipala or Lau’ikapu (common name used by Kona families), Kole (Golden eyed tang), Paku’iku’i (Achilles Tang), O’opu Hue (Puffer Fishes), Unauna (crabs and hermit crabs), baby Mano and many others denizens of the reef. All prime money-making targets for those who capture, buy and sell wildlife for the pet trade.

Cruel and Inhumane treatment is unacceptable!

The methods of capture, storage and transport is cruel and inhumane. We are strongly opposed to these practices and this treatment of our marine life. Did you know a yellow tang can live for decades on a coral reef, but once captured, they begin to die from the stress and ill-treatment. They may not even make it thru the night and if they do they can live months in a state of slow starvation. Auwe!!!

The State protects the trade, gives them special treatment and allows them to do things we are not allowed to do. For example:

 it’s clear that Aquarium Collecting has Nothing to do with fishing

How would it be if people could get a “take” permit to go into the forest and just take as many of our native birds as they could collect, even the rare, threatened or endangered species)—no way —right?! Our Ocean Ohana deserve maximum protections from such exploitation, pillage and plunder for profit —now!

Raising the Standard of Aloha for our reef Ohana

To be clear, we are for the Reef and it’s protection we are not seeking to vilify the those in the trade, we are opposed to the exploitive ‘taking’ practices that are driven by mainland corporations and pet stores and their desire to profit on our marine life at their, and our, expense.

But we must remember profit is not a right in Hawai’i and the public trust doctrine specifically guards against this kind abuse and protects the people’s rights to the commons (those things we all need the water, the Ocean, air and the reefs) over any one industry’s right to exploitation and profit. The problem is the State is supposed to protect the public interest not pander to the exploitive industries. The State is not enforcing the laws that protect the public rights—Kia’i this sounds familiar right?

Take Action to protect our reef Ohana now!

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Aloha Aina – Protected by the Public Trust Doctrine

The Hawai’i State Constitution places an affirmative duty in on the State to protect all of our rights to a clean and healthy ecosystem and environment. Also protected is our right as Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) and other members of the public to enjoy and to harvest fish to feed our families.

Our ecosystem is delicate and the State’s responsibly to protect the ecosystem for the ‘betterment of the conditions of Native Hawaiians and that of the General Public’ is none negotiable. In other words, it is the states job to protect our reef systems for Hawai’i and it’s people NOT for the profit of mainland Pet store chains. Allowing the excessive exploitation by this industry is to allow profit over the great public good. Again this is a violation of the public trust of Hawai’i.

The Supreme Court shut down what the State had refused to regulate

Last year there was a bill in the legislature that was a compromise bill that passed nearly unanimously, but the Governor vetoed it! This would have allowed for a phase out of the practices. So the bill wasn’t perfect but both sides actually supported it.

Since then, the Hawai’i Supreme Court has weighed in holding that the Aquarium Trade must do environmental review before collection can continue. Here again Kia’i doesn’t this sound familiar too. The failure rests with the Executive Branch—the buck stops with Governor Ige! The governor is supposed to enforce the courts order but that is not happening. So our reef Ohana is getting hammered—and it needs to stop now!!!!

E Lu’u Mai!!!!

Court Ordered Environmental Review

In October 2017, commercial aquarium fish permits were deemed illegal and invalid until completion of a proper environmental review.

The State just released two Environmental Assessment documents prepared by the aquarium trade and the accompanying so-called Cultural Assessments required by state law that claimed among other things a “FONSI” or a Finding Of No Significant Impact. In short, they are claiming there is no impact to the unlimited take of our reefs Ohana by commercial aquarium extraction. How can this be?

This finding is outrageous and fails to reach even the basic levels of analysis of the aquarium trade’s impacts on Native Hawaiian’s cultural and religious reef uses and practices and the cumulative impact to the delicate reef environs and marine ecosystems as a whole.

We call upon DLNR to do better —to do a more rigorous, comprehensive and cumulative Environmental Impact Statement (EA) and Cultural Impact Statement (CIS) as required by law —now!

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