HI - Aquarium Trade Reveals Revised EIS for West Hawaii Fishing
The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council has released a revised draft environmental impact statement with a new proposal to reopen West Hawaii’s coastal waters to commercial aquarium fishing.
The move comes nine months after the state Board of Land and Natural Resources unanimously rejected the group’s first environmental impact statement (EIS).
The council’s updated proposal includes reducing the number of aquarium fishing permits issued in the West Hawaii Regional Fishery Management Area (WHRFMA) from 10 to seven and creates a “Revised White List” consisting of eight species. The area spans the entire coastline of West Hawaii, from Upolu Point in North Kohala to Ka Lae (South Point) in Ka‘u.
Only yellow tang, kole, orangespine unicornfish, potter’s angelfish, brown surgeonfish, thompson’s surgeonfish, black surgeonfish and bird wrasse would be allowed to be caught. Further, each of the seven permitted fishers would be limited to annual catch quotas of 1% of the estimated WHRFMA Open Area population for each species, per the document published Tuesday by the state Office of Environmental Quality Control kicking off a 45-day public comment period.
Interestingly, despite the reduction in permits and proposed annual quotas, the revised EIS estimates an increased impact of collection for each of the eight species compared to the previous EIS released in April 2020. For example, the estimated yellow tang collection increases to 3.3% of the population based on NOAA’s Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center Ecosystem Sciences Division (formerly Coral Reef Ecosystems Program) estimates, compared to a maximum estimate of just 1.93% of the population in last year’s EIS.