Learn About Toxic Sunscreen Chemicals



Come this Monday, November 13th, 2017 at 1:30 to Maui Council Chambers (200 S. High St. 8th floor) to learn about the toxic sunscreen chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are killing our reefs.

Dr. Craig Downs and Joe DiNardo will be giving presentations on the science behind these killer chemicals.

Agenda: https://mauicounty.legistar.com/View.ashx…

Listen to Palau’s Prez Tell How He Protected Their Ocean

Come hear an environmental hero share how he and his nation, the Republic of Palau, balance local culture and natural resources against the demands and challenges of economic growth, tourism, and climate change.  President of Palau Thomas (Tommy) Remengesau  is speaking on Sunday, June 2, 2013 from 5:00-6:30pm at Maui College ‘Ike Le’a Building #114.

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State Hears Aquarium Collection Lawsuit

by Robert Wintner  (Opinions expressed are the authors)
(Note: Above photo copyrighted and courtesy of Robert Wintner)

The Honolulu District Court yesterday heard closing summaries a case against the State of Hawaii for issuing aquarium collecting permits without assessing Environmental impact—or impact to the Hawaiian culture.

The public trust law firm Earthjustice, representing a cross section of plaintiffs against the State, had no burden to establish harm but presented overwhelming evidence of harm to Hawaii reefs from massive aquarium extraction.

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Fish Resources Gill Nets (Laynets) and Aquarium Collecting

Lay Nets

Problems Associated With Laynets

  • Overly efficient method causing a decline in fish
  • Indescriminant catch and kill of all species (sometimes only 1/15 of catch is usable)
  • Entanglement and killing of endangered turtles and ocean mammals
  • Breaking coral while retrieving net
  • Danger to swimmers and divers
  • Fish spoiled when left too long
  • Attract sharks to shoreline waters
  • Pieces of net tear off and endanger marine wildlife and boating
  • Enforcement of regulations difficult
    • Too few DLNR agents
    • Difficulty locating net owner
    • Time consuming to enforce time limits  

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Looting of the Seas

Looting the Seas is an award-winning project by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists looking at forces that are rapidly emptying oceans of fish. In its first installment ICIJ documented the massive black market in threatened bluefin tuna.

In the second, it revealed that billions of dollars in subsidies flow into the Spanish fishing industry despite its record of flouting rules and breaking the law.

For the last of the three-part investigation, ICIJ reporters focused on an unlikely protagonist: the bony, bronzed-hued jack mackerel in the southern Pacific. Industrial fleets, after fishing out other waters decimated it at stunning speed. Since so much jack mackerel is reduced to fishmeal for aquaculture and pigs, we eat it unaware with each forkful of farmed salmon.

The plunder continues today as the world’s largest trawlers head south before binding quotas are established. Not long ago, this was one of the world’s richest fishing grounds.

Read the whole report: Looting of the Seas

Initiative To Benefit Nearshore Fisheries

Please write to Governor Abercrombie and ask him to pick Maui for the Pilot project for restoring the near shore fisheries.

Honolulu, Hawaii — Governor Neil Abercrombie today announced a joint initiative between the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Conservation International (CI), and the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation (HKL Castle) to increase enforcement that will help sustain Hawaii’s nearshore fisheries.

The initiative will create new Fisheries Enforcement Units, a priority program of DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE), on Maui, Hawaii and Kaua’i.

“Hawaii’s ecological, economic, and cultural well-being depends on how well we ensure these valuable marine stocks are responsibly fished and managed,” said Governor Abercrombie. “People all across our islands, no matter what their perspective, have told me repeatedly that the key to protecting our fisheries is effective enforcement of our laws. This wisdom is a cornerstone of the New Day plan for environmental sustainability.”

CI, an Arlington-based nonprofit dedicated to protecting Earth’s biodiversity and ecosystem, is supporting this initiative with a $2 million commitment and HKL Castle, a Kailua-based nonprofit whose mission includes restoring Hawaii’s nearshore marine life, will provide $400,000. The Abercrombie Administration is investing $1.1 million for this effort and intends to fully fund the program after an initial four-year pilot program.

“If we take care of the ocean, the ocean will take care of us,” said Terry George, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of HKL Castle. “This public-private partnership will help secure a future for Hawaii marked by abundant fisheries and healthy marine ecosystems.”

Healthy fisheries are important for local fishing communities. About 26 percent of households fish regularly, and majority of nearshore fishers are non-commercial, according to a 2006 University of Hawaii Social Sciences Research Institute study.  Unsustainable coastal development and pollution, along with a high volume of fishing activity, have led to the decline of 75 percent of Hawaii’s nearshore fish population.

DOCARE is the enforcement arm of DLNR, whose 94 conservation and resource enforcement officers statewide are responsible for all laws, rules and regulations that fall under the DLNR.

“Our management priority is to protect our state’s natural resources and to enforce existing rules and laws in place for that purpose,” said DLNR Chairperson William J. Aila, Jr. “We will now be able to create specialized units — initially on the neighbor islands — that will focus exclusively on fisheries enforcement. The result will be significant improvement in fisheries compliance, ultimately resulting in healthier fish stocks and increased seafood security for island residents.”

Each new Fisheries Enforcement Unit created as part of this initiative will consist of one supervisory captain, two field officers, one educational specialist and one administrative support position. The units will focus on fisheries laws and policies. Each unit will have a boat, boat storage facilities close to ocean entry points, and necessary maintenance and fuel budgets to ensure adequate surveillance time on the water.

“Improved enforcement will benefit the majority of fishers that want to fish responsibly and sustainably,” said Melissa Bos, Director of the Conservation International’s Hawaii Fish Trust Program. “Working along with the State of Hawaii and the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, our goal is to ensure that local communities have access to sustainable and locally caught seafood for generations to come.”

“The establishment of Fisheries Enforcement Units is a historic and monumental step forward for the DLNR and Hawaii,” said Randy K. Awo, Acting DOCARE Enforcement Chief.


By Rene Umberger
This article was originally featured in the Sierra Club Newsletter of September 2009

Increasingly snorkelers and divers in Hawaii are asking “Where have all the fish gone?” Reef fish decline can be attributed to several factors, however none weigh so heavily as the losses due to extraction, including collecting reef animals for the home tanks of hobby aquarists.

According to the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, “Severe overfishing for the aquarium trade occurs even in the United States. Aquarium fish species have declined by 59% over the last 20 years in Hawaii…Aquarium fishes outside of reserves experience significant declines – from 14% to 97%.”

The fish collected are Hawaii’s most beautiful, unusual and often rarest species. Given that the “marine ornamental” trade operates with few species limits and no limits on the number of fish they may collect, nor on the numbers of permits issued, it’s no wonder reef fish populations are in serious decline.

Hawaii has the highest rate of endemism for warm-water fishes, worldwide. These rare and beautiful species are highly prized by aquarium hobbyists and in fact, 45 percent of Hawaii’s top 20 collected species are endemic. As such, there is no replacement pool to draw from if they are over collected to the point where they cannot rebound, so these unique species could be lost forever. Each example of the sacrifice and waste associated with the aquarium industry diminishes our reefs and ultimately begs moral questions. In 2007, Hawaii’s collectors reported that of the 700,000-plus animals collected, 20,340 animals died before being sold (the true numbers are estimated to be several times higher). Putting 20,340 fish in perspective, it equates roughly to every fish on a reef the size of five football fields.

Half of Hawaii’s 20 most collected species are listed by aquarium experts as “unsuitable for captivity.” The most egregious examples of fish sacrificed for brief entertainment in a tank are the coral-eating butterflyfish, the Moorish Idol and the Hawaiian cleaner

wrasse; all known to starve within weeks because their preferred foods are not available in captivity. Additionally, collecting cleaner wrasses is especially harmful to the reefs; their removal reduces overall fish diversity and abundance quickly in the areas they’re taken from.

Mortalities continue throughout their journey from wholesalers to retailers and finally to hobbyists. Many will die shortly after arriving on the mainland from the stress of being starved, drugged and bagged for shipping, and the rest will succumb because they are almost impossible to keep outside their native reef habitat. Bob Fenner, a well-respected, 40-year veteran of the aquarium industry, wrote, “It is my estimate that even given sustainable collection practices . . . less than one percent live more than a year in captivity.”

Four-fifths of all collected species are herbivores, affecting the reef’s algae/coral balance, and most are Yellow tangs. Recent research in Hawaii shows that Yellow tangs are long-lived, surviving on reefs for decades; the oldest found so far is 41. Collected in Hawaii by the hundreds of thousands annually, suppliers consider them easy to care for and good for beginners, but only a few thousand of them will live beyond a year. The aquarium trade claims the losses are worth it: hobbyists cite their tanks’ “educational value” and industry professionals cite the need for livestock to support their lucrative “dry goods” sales of tanks, filters and lights. Common sense says reef animals are fueling a disposable hobby: When the fish die, they are thrown out and replaced, like cut flowers.

If you believe Hawaii’s reefs can no longer support the luxury trade in reef animals for a hobby, then visit our web site to sign the petition and learn more: www.FortheFishes.org. For questions or to join our “Take Action” mailing list, contact Rene directly at octopus@maui.net. Rene is a scuba instructor, underwater tour guide, member of the Maui Nui Marine Resource Council and is a member of the Sierra Club.