State agency’s position tactic ‘outrageous’
Monday’s story on the proposed West Hawaii fishing rules showed a psychedelic wrasse, a “white list” fish the aquarium trade wants to keep taking.
Found nowhere else on Earth, psychedelic wrasses are a natural treasure and Hawaii public trust. The state’s Wildlife Conservation Strategy lists them as important species threatened by the aquarium trade and needing protection so they don’t become endangered.
So, why are they on the white list?
Aquarium collectors report taking several hundred psychedelic wrasses from West Hawaii reefs every year, selling them for $4 each. Mainland hobbyists covet them for their unique and striking beauty, and will pay as much as $170 for one, though they rarely survive for very long in captivity.
More than 50 percent of psychedelic wrasses reportedly die within a month of capture and, knowing their dismal survival rates, mainland retailers sell them without the pitiful seven- to 14-day survival guarantee granted other species.
These and other contradictions to conservation, culture and animal welfare principles make up the majority of the 40 species included in the “white list.”
The state lists two more species as threatened by the aquarium trade; 16 more have similar dismal mainland survival rates; and at least a dozen others show major population impacts from the aquarium trade.
Can these species — can our reefs — can we or our children — bear such disregard and waste?
The public isn’t fooled by Department of Land and Natural Resources’ “sustainable” spin. Sustainable doesn’t mean abundant, thriving, diverse, culturally appropriate, or ethical. Department of Land and Natural Resources directors and staff will say and do anything to keep their pet project alive in the face of mounting public opposition.
Their new tactic blames recreational and subsistence fishers for what aquarium collectors have done — as if butterflyfish were on everyone’s dinner table.
It’s outrageous — but, will they get away with it?