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Related FAQs: Livestock Collection

Related Articles: Marine Livestock Collecting Methods Overview, Collecting Your Own Marines (With An Emphasis on Diving)

The Best Livestock For Your Reef Aquarium:

Collecting Marines the Aloha Way

Bob Fenner  

<Would a list of what is commonly offered from the area be of use? Maybe as a side bar? Perhaps as a separate article.>

Where can you get the best yellow, convict, gold rim among other tangs? How about longnose, saddleback et al. butterflies? Here's a real clue; what area is the only source for the blue line butterflyfish, potters and bandit angels? Answer: Hawaii.

The reasons abound why the fiftieth State is the location of choice for marines that can be gotten there:

1) Careful collection, handling and shipping by locals.

2) The enterprise is closely monitored and controlled by the government.

3) Close proximity to U.S. markets coupled with regular, frequent flights to the mainland (and Japan).

4) Initial high quality and quantity of stocks.

This article will expand on these attributes.

1) Collection; the People & Technique:

Gathering wildlife underwater in Hawaii is one of the last domains of the wildcat independent. It's each person for themselves going off almost daily to favored areas in small skiffs. It fills one with wonder to meet these people; no two are alike, yet they share a spiritual love and respect for the sea, and it's inhabitants. Many are native Hawaiians.

Of all the chains major islands, the bulk of fishes and invertebrates are collected from the Big Island (Hawaii), the groups' namesake, with Oahu making up most of the rest.

And what an island it is! The Big Island is big; @ 4,038 square miles, approximately the size of Connecticut, it is more than twice the size of the rest of the Hawaiian islands combined. The second largest cattle ranch in the United States is on this island; the Parker, with more than two hundred thousand acres.

Hawaii's entire perimeter is surrounded by lava rock and coral reefs, a diver, pet-fish, and collector's paradise.

Back to collecting. Each boat is self-contained including capture and transport gear; nets, "chase poles", holding buckets (more like net type clothes hampers with a spring loaded top), recirculating tanks for the ride back, decompression hang lines with clips, and lots of scuba gear.

A typical collecting day goes something like this; all the tools loaded and gassed up, the boat is launched and motored out to site. Bottom time is optimized best by the use of a dive computer that accurately co-tracks and warns of limits of nitrogen saturation. At the bottom a barrier/mist net is played out in a propitious spot in a rough "J" shape. The transparent barrier nets here are taller than I've ever seen anyplace else; 10-12 feet high. In part this is to accommodate the often uneven and steeply sloped environment, but mostly it's to waylay the various species that would easily ascend/descend over/under shorter nets. In the crook of the "J" a deep pocket is made by placing a stone a few feet up and into the net. Desired fishes are driven into this "J" pocket by a charging diver waving "chase poles". There are several variations of these tools but the most productive versions are bright colored fiberglass of about six foot length.

From the mist net fishes are hand-netted and transferred to hamper-size collection buckets for safe storage and decompression. At the end of each session the diver gathers his/her gear and heads for the surface for a decompression/safety stop. While there and on the boat, biding time blowing off nitrogen, they "make a couple of wraps" every few minutes on the specimen container lines, slowly bringing the buckets topside. Yes, most fishes will get 'the bends' if brought up too quickly.

After all the catching and lifting sorties the fish (& invertebrates) are brought onto the boat which is quickly motored back to dock. Livestock are re-netted to a 'truck tank' and live-hauled to a garage set-up or industrial space. Here they are warehoused, hardened, and consolidated into a saleable lot; optimally a cargo-container full that will be shipped en masse either to a U.S. or Japanese marine wholesaler.

The holding facilities I've seen in Hawaii run the full gamut of sophistication. Some friends (acknowledged below) are typical; they share a large home garage arrangement incorporating a centralized recirculating system with two protein skimmers, a fluidized bed filter, ammonia-ring towers, utilizing natural seawater. Are you surprised there aren't at least two sub-systems for invertebrates or safety? Steve (Keiilina) tells me they don't add much (no need) to the system's water; no copper, etc. They do reduce the specific gravity by adding fresh & generally ship in the same system water.

Hawaiian shipping styro's are called coffin boxes because of their oblong shape, as opposed to the common double Styrofoam containers of most everywhere else. People there know to pack their shipments loosely. ; about 15-20 organisms of medium size per box, less than half the concentration and with twice plus the volume of water of Indo. or the P.I. shipments. And the difference shows. The survivability and vigor of Hawaiian livestock must be experienced first hand to be appreciated. I have seen many one hundred percent live, zero DOA shipments from Hawaii; extremely few from other areas outside the U.S..

(2) It's the Law, Brah:

Live pet-fish collecting is a licensed, inspected enterprise in Hawaii. Boats and facilities are taxed/licensed and regularly examined. Each fish that is caught, shipped or dies is accounted for. Can the same be said for geographic regions not under United States jurisdiction? No.

(3) The Universal Ingredient, Time

How long wild caught livestock is held before shipping is crucial. Many fishes such as surgeons continuously graze the reef during the day. Weeks may pass between capture and air freight before livestock leave the Philippines, days from Hawaii. I could regale you with anecdotes of having my Asian shipments bumped by the airlines for electronics shipments to the U.S., being left on the hot tarmac, etc., but I think you catch my drift. The situation is this simple; the shorter the time in transit, the better the quality of livestock.

(4) Holy Shannon-Wiener Species Diversity Index!

The abundance and diversity of shallow reef life is excellently high. Except for the occasional catastrophic meteorological event, there is a year round supply of catch-able food and ornamental fishes. Further, due to Hawaii's remote placement and ocean currents, about a third of the life there is endemic; found nowhere else.

Some Conclusion:

I can't encourage you enough to keep your eyes open for cheap flights to the Aloha State and to go there. The water is warm and clear year round. Can't keep Reticulated, Ornatissimus Butterflyfishes, Moorish Idols? Tinker's butterfly too pricey to purchase? Go visit them.

In the finite game of pet-fishing, Hawaiian livestock is a winner. They are worth every penny; they live due to better handling, public regulation, shorter flight times, and better initial quality.

Special thanks (Mahalo) to Steve Keiilina of Aquatic Design Systems and Tammy and Eric Rood of Ocean Pacific Tropicals; collectors to wholesalers on the Big Island of Hawaii, for friendship and instruction re their philosophy and way of business life. They may be reached @ 75-300 Aloha Kona Dr., Kailua Kona 96740, 808-329-8569.

/Slides: Semi-intelligent/intelligible caption material

1) A laundry basket of yellow tangs Zebrasoma flavescens, kept separate in a holding tub to reduce intraspecific aggression with larger conspecifics, as well as to facilitate clean-up from messy feeding/defecation, and re-capture.

2) Same as one above, but showing the larger individuals underneath.

3 and 4) The man and his boat. Steve Keiilina and the Piilani. Would you go out in the open ocean in this vessel?

5) A real inventive Cargo Container; this one used to ship in Styrofoam boxes and tops, and to "size-up" outgoing orders. Scheduling and shipping by the airlines' standard size boxes is the only way to operate. These aluminum units are light, quickly loaded and fit right into the freight-belly of the plane.

6) Steve in front of the holding systems main filtration units; larger versions of the same gear hobbyists utilize. Protein skimmers, ammonia towers, ozonizer and ultraviolet sterilizer.

7) Wholesalers at rest. Steve, Tammy & Eric Hood at the other side of their home/garage facility.

8) Eric and one of the humungous hamper-with-a-spring-loaded-top catch/holding containers. Compatible new captures are placed in these for safe keeping and decompression stops.

Hawaiian Aquarium Fish Collecting Ban       10/24/17
Aloha Bob, I’m a free-diver and have gotten better at catching fish underwater over the years here on the Big Island.
<Definitely a learned skill! And am a BIG fan of the big island>
Its definitely challenging! I use two hand nets and have refrained from using a barrier net over the years. But with interest in collecting harder to capture specimens I been thinking about getting or making one.
<I have articles on such on WWM>
Just when I decided to give it a go they ban aquarium fish collecting.
<Actually; the governor vetoed that bill, thank goodness>
Now I know it’s for retail sale but I can’t get a clear sense if you can still get a license for collecting for personal use.
<I think a fishing license will do it here>
I know the restrictions state that use of a net over 3 feet requires a collectors license. Do you happen to know the status of collecting for personal use out here?
<As stated>
If not, I’ll be contacting DLNR.
<Good idea>
I wanted to get a larger Raccoon BFF for my tide pool / fuge to eat all those Aiptasia! I could keep my extra catches in the Fuge but eventually I’d have to add more water volume, I know. If were to plumb into my existing system a larger display for BFF and Angels would you suggest to keep it a FOWLR system?
<Mmm; I'd keep them in your main/display>
I want to avoid using copper so would be going for prevention with tying it into the existing system for bigger volume / stability. It’s just an idea for now but we all must dream, right!
<Prophylactic pH adjusted freshwater dips should prevent the worst of parasitic introductions. Again, archived on WWM>
This hobby keeps me sane in-between work mode. ;-) With all the cray cray stuff going on in the world we all know we can use a little more peace. Looking forward to ordering and readying your book on BFF! ;-)
In Gratitude,
Sky Kubby
<Be chatting Sky! Hope to be back visiting in Kailua soon. BobF>
Re: Hawaiian Aquarium Fish Collecting Ban       10/25/27

Really!? That’s great to hear the Gov. Vetoes that bill. They went from totally unregulated to trying to ban all aquarium collecting.
<... have dealt w/ Snarky Bob and Rene Umberger for too many years re>
There’s got to be a middle ground.
<Agreed; there is enough science to effectively manage the resource. I would limit licensing on Kona... and hire more personnel for census>
Bob, It definitely would be a pleasure to dive with you and catch some dinner.
<Ahh! I see us getting together Sky!>
I haven’t gone SCUBA in years but am starting to warm up to it. I’m realizing even if I do a 100 ft. free dive drop like I do spearfishing and collect some Anthias, I can’t just bring them up.
<Correct. Would have to stow in a container; haul up slowly>
Diving with tanks would allow me to properly decompress them. But 20 min.s every 6 feet!! - is that really necessary?
<No... About five-ten min.s every 20 feet is good enough>
Who would you recommend I connect with to get back in with tanks?
<I was good friends w/ Norm at Big Island Divers, but he sold a few years ago. I mostly use Jack's when visiting there nowayears, for renting tanks and weights, putting friends on a boat for the manta go at Keohole>
I haven’t SCUBA’d since St. Croix when I was 15years old ;-) My wife is interested now too! ;-)
In Gratitude,
Sky Kubby
<I say get on out there! There is a pretty active scuba club in Kailua; but they're... well they used to be a bit clique-ish. BobF>

Reef Aquaria + Conservation, HI   9/8/10
Aloha Bob,
<Ahh, Cody... your attached file, input is very timely indeed. I hope you give me permission to send your note and attachment to James Lawrence begin_of_the_skype_highlighting of Coral Magazine for consideration of possible publishing... Further, I would ask your permission to post these items on WetWebMedia.com. I am trying to write something similar in the way of an editorial/position paper on Zebrasoma flavescens... and coming up with very similar observations, and suggestions. To wit: the need to assess OSYield, MSYield, the very real usefulness of limiting/limited entry of licensees... Might I further ask your opinion of how badly underreported catches are in HI?>
I recently completed my master's in the University of Hawaii at Hilo's Tropical Conservation Biology graduate program (May 2009) and have since relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area. Not sure if you remember, but my thesis subject was on the Potter's angelfish and its associated collection for the aquarium hobby as well as conservation. Now I work for Andy Schmidt at San Francisco Bay Brand/Ocean Nutrition. J
<Ahh, please say hello to Andy for me>
As you can see, I'm a die-hard aquarium industry guy and am very passionate about working on marine aquarium/reef conservation issues. I'm looking to help out wherever I can from the industry side. I did some work for the Hawaii Tropical Fish Association last year (to help with their website) and I submitted written testimony against HB 3225 in 2008 (see attached).
I just read your CORAL magazine rebuttal to Robert Wintner's latest commentary and, of course, you hit the nail right on the head. Please let me know if there's anything I can do to help out in Hawaii or elsewhere or if you maybe have some ideas about spreading the message of reef conservation through the industry. Any connections you might have to other reef aquarium conservationists would be great also.
Cody Chapin, M.S.
San Francisco Bay Brand
<Cody, please respond whether you would permit my posting this letter, your input, and sending along to JamesL. Thank you for your efforts. Bob Fenner>

James, please read through the messages below and find Cody's input attached here. BobF
Re: Reef Aquaria + Conservation   9/8/10
You absolutely have my permission to forward the letter to James Lawrence begin_of_the_skype_highlighting and to post to WetWebMedia.com. Let me know if it should be updated to reflect the most current pieces of legislation and/or the latest goings-on concerning the AQ fishery in Hawaii'¦ the original document was drafted to address HB3225, which is now long gone. I'll be happy to update it.
<For timeliness sake, I think it's fine for posting to WWM>
William Walsh with the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources in Kona is a great contact to have if you have questions about current and past attempts to establish OSYield, MSYield, and fisheries management tools in the AQ fishery throughout the State.
<Thank you. I have met Bill>
He's a really busy guy and hard to catch sometimes but he's a WEALTH of knowledge. I don't think there are any clear estimates on the level of underreporting in Hawaii'¦ I'll go back in my thesis and check to see if I have anything more specific. I will also forward a copy of my final thesis to you on C. potteri.
As for Z. flavescens, Jeremy Claisse is the graduate student at UH-Manoa that was working on yellow tang population dynamics the last time I checked. I think he was working on his masters in collaboration with the Oceanic Institute on Oahu (Charles Laidley is the contact in the finfish department at OI). Always feel free to contact me if you have any more questions.
<Again, I thank you. BobF>
Cody Chapin, M.S.
San Francisco Bay Brand


When attempting to manage natural resources--like Hawaiian coral reefs--that exhibit a high

degree of environmental complexity and equally are influenced by multiple human activities, difficulty can

rapidly arise. Often, incapacity to discern environmental variability from the effects of human activities like

fishing can lead to disagreement and controversy over fishery regulation. The latest product of such

controversy is Hawai'i Senate Bill No. 3225, which imposes bag limits on certain species of ornamental

fish and completely prohibits the collection of others. Although current regulations specific to the

collection of aquarium fish are negligible and restrictions may be warranted to limit the individual size,

number, season, or particular species collected, the mandates outlined by this hastily-proposed legislation

are clearly intended to destabilize the Hawaiian aquarium fishery and the livelihoods of associated

stakeholders rather than to produce helpful resource management solutions. The passing of this bill in its

current form would haphazardly abandon decades of legislative progress in Hawai'i and, without

considering the latest scientific evidence, carelessly undermine the most economically significant inshore

fishery in the state [valued at $3.2 million in FY2002 (DAR 2002)].

The following points must be considered when evaluating the efficacy of S.B. 3225, as it is

currently structured:

1.) Restricting the commercial collection of marine ornamental fishes to such numbers would

effectively bring the fishery to a standstill, undermining over a decade of labor-intensive, sustainable

resource legislation and related progress [i.e. the passing of House Bill 3457 (Act 306), subsequent

enforcement provisions, and the establishment of the West Hawai'i Regional Fisheries Management Area

with its network of Fish Replenishment Areas (FRAs)].

2.) By distinguishing aquarium fishing as the sole cause of adverse fluctuations in coral reef

fish populations, S.B. 3225 discounts the inherent complexity of coral reef environments that must be

understood in order effectively manage associated resources. Areas of ecological uncertainty associated

with coral reef environments include overall productivity, life cycles of targeted species, spawning

seasonality, larval dispersal, patterns of recruitment, species interactions, species abundance, and historic

conditions. These environmental and ecological influences are capable of generating effects similar to those

produced by fishing. Furthermore, nearshore human activities other than aquarium collection--such as

destructive gear and by-catch from other nearshore fisheries, alien species, coastal development, tourism,

and pollution--can ultimately impact the abundance of species more adversely than the temporary effects

of aquarium fishing. For those making decisions on resource allocation or investments that influence

marine aquarium fisheries, it is critical to consider all nearshore human activities capable of causing

adverse fluctuations in the abundance of species captured for the aquarium trade.

3.) S.B. 3225 restrictions on the collection of specific ornamental species lack scientific

substantiation and undercut DAR initiatives to manage coastal resources based on the best scientific

information available. For specific ornamental fishes mentioned in S.B. 3225, section (a), such as yellow

tang (Zebrasoma flavescens), flame angelfish (Centropyge loriculus), and 'butterfly' (which we assume

refers to Butterflyfishes, or the family Chaetodontidae) existing and newly-gathered data must be more

rigorously analyzed by DAR in order to discern whether bag limitations on those particular species should

be recommended.

4.) No criteria are provided for fishes identified as 'no-take' species, and current efforts by the

West Hawai'i Fishery Council Species of Special Concern Subcommittee to identify these criteria are

not acknowledged. The West Hawai'i Fisheries Council Species of Special Concern Subcommittee

(SSCS), chartered in late 2006, is presently engaged in outlining concerns for West Hawai'i reef species

impacted by aquarium fishing and other marine activities, and is now considering whether to recommend

restrictions on the extractive use of certain 'species of special concern' in West Hawai'i. Species may be

identified based upon criteria such as rarity, specialized habitat, poor aquarium survivorship, declining

trends in abundance, ecosystem importance and ecological services, and value to tourism and recreation.

S.B. 3225 prevents further progress by the SSCS to solicit the involvement of resource users and other


industry participants to develop official criteria and subsequent management recommendations based on

those criteria. No specific reasons are offered for 'no-take' species identified in the bill, such as

pufferfishes (Tetraodontidae, Canthigasterinae), Boxfishes (Ostraciidae), eels (Muraenidae), and coral eating

species (such as Butterflyfishes and Parrotfishes). For explicit species mentioned, such as Potter's

angelfish (Centropyge potteri) and the Hawaiian cleaner wrasse (Labroides phthirophagus), further

research may be warranted before policies prohibit their capture. Case in point, new information being

prepared in a University of Hawai'i at Hilo thesis study for Potter's angelfish, a 2007 rebound in mean

abundance of this species in West Hawai'i to numbers greater than those seen in 1999, and seven years of

data showing a greater abundance of C. potteri in areas open to aquarium fishing on the Big Island

illustrate the need for further investigation.

5.) This bill presumes that bag limits are the most effective means of managing ornamental reef

fishes, and does not take into consideration other fishery management tools--such as limited entry or an

extension of the current system of fish replenishment areas--which may be more effective in addressing

overall fishery concerns. Almost a decade of scientific evidence collected by the DLNR now suggests that

the network of FRAs mandated by Act 306 has been effective in promoting the recovery of heavily exploited

fish stocks in Hawai'i. In 2004, DAR reported that, from baseline assessments, the established

FRAs had proven effective in yielding increased abundance for several targeted fishes. Some species have

even experienced increases outside the FRAs, indicating possible 'spill-over' effects. The creation of a

limited-entry fishery is currently under investigation by the West Hawai'i Fisheries Council. Overall

management of aquarium species throughout the Main Hawaiian Islands should be based on what has been

previously proven effective. West Hawai'i's existing system of FRAs, in conjunction with a limited-entry

system and species-specific regulations (when necessary) may well surpass bag limits as an effective

systematic solution.

6.) S.B. 3225 does not anticipate the probable limitations in enforcement capacity by DOCARE.

Bag limits on reef fishes collected commercially for the marine aquarium industry would only be effective

if they could be very strictly enforced. The Hawai'i Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement

(DOCARE)--whose agents are currently taxed with enforcing various other state laws and rules involving

historic sites, forest reserves, aquatic life and wildlife areas, coastal zones, conservation districts, and

county parks--would be required to take on this additional responsibility for which they may lack the

necessary manpower and resources to implement.

We must consider that, if we continue to ensure the sustainable use of our coastal resources

through appropriate management action, the marine aquarium fishery in the Hawaiian Islands will serve as

a model to the greater Pacific region where collection of ornamental species is practiced. Since Hawaiian

aquarium fishes are captured using small-mesh fence and hand nets rather than harmful explosives or

chemicals, a high survival rate is generally ensured for the collected animals when compared with tropical

fisheries that employ destructive methods such as cyanide fishing. If years of progress were dismissed and

a complete shut down of the fishery were to occur, a great shift in demand would follow, supporting Indo-

Pacific nations whose policies continue to allow the employment of unsustainable fishing practices. This

would only accelerate the destruction of coral reefs worldwide.

I would urge all resource users, industry participants, scientists, conservationists, and concerned

citizens to voice their opposition to this bill, as it would be an irresponsible and ineffective policy.


Brandon C. Chapin

Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science Graduate Student

University of Hawai'i at Hilo




Clayton Hee

23rd Senatorial District

Hawaii State Capitol, Room 228

415 South Beretania Street

Honolulu, HI 96813

Phone 808-586-7330; Fax 808-586-7334

e-mail senhee@Capitol.hawaii.gov

Your name being used by anti-aquarium activists (again) -- 02/02/10
Hi Bob,
<Hey XXXX>
I remember writing you about a year ago on this subject, and you may have heard about it on and off since then.
<Oh yes... even from Snorkel Bob himself/directly>
In a nutshell, we have a small group of activists who are trying to kill the aquarium industry over here. They one of their main talking points is a quote from you (taken out of context) in which you state that 99% of fish die within a year.
<Yes... and I've looked, can't find how to directly add a response to this online version of West Hawaii Today... If you would, please send along our email here for their posting>
More recently, they have been even more specific, reporting that you claim that 99% of Hawaiian aquarium fish (or sometimes 99% of yellow tangs) do not survive a year.
<Yes... but... this is a fisheries statistic... not an industry incidental mortality one. In other words, it is a fact that counting all potential spawn, the vast majority of marine fish life is dead... swept out to unsuitable circumstances by tides, currents, consumed by predators, starved for lack of nutrient... w/in a year. This is simple fisheries biology statistics. I don't know of any "industry" counts for Zebrasoma flavescens, but I would be very surprised if there were more than 10-20% mortality from collection to receiving at wholesalers in the U.S. mainland, and much more than that range of further losses going to/through distributors to end-users/consumers. Who knows how many specimens in hobbyists care live a year or more? Likely this is not a large number; but I would be very surprised if the percentage surviving in the wild were greater. Further, I take exception with BobW's assertion that this species lives for forty years in the wild. There may be some individuals that reach a decade or so, but these are exceedingly rare I'd warrant. Unfortunately, I do not find any number/age data for this species to readily cite>
One of them recently submitted a letter to the West Hawaii newspaper saying exactly that. I attached a PDF to this e-mail or you can read it here if it's still up:
Is it possible for you to write a rebuttal to this? Unfortunately making false claims is the norm for these guys, and this time they're directly falsifying a statement from you.
Also, I would very much appreciate it if you did not include my name on your website, since I'd rather avoid retaliation.
<A great shame that one must operate thus>
<I do appreciate your bringing this to my notice; and want to further state my lack of awareness re the incident alluded to here at Honokohau Bay... but that I know of a few of the collectors on Kona and O'ahu and have found them to be excellent divers, and careful stewards of the resource in Hawaii. The planet will not be better for curtailing the trade in ornamentals there. A hu'i hou! Bob Fenner>
Re: Your name being used by anti-aquarium activists (again)  -- 02/02/10
> Hi Bob,
> Thanks for the reply! The link for submitting letters to the editor is here:
> http://www.westhawaiitoday.com/contact_us/letters/
<Thank you for this. This is what I've sent:
In regards to Robert Wintner's Opinion > Letters - Your Voice 
"Apologist collectors"
Monday, February 1, 2010 8:37 AM HST
Which in turn was a response to: Tropical Fish dump prompts outrage, Friday, January 29, 2010 8:54 AM HST
I want to further expand on "Snorkel Bob's" taking my statements out of context.
 It is so that the vast majority of fishes have high biological mortalities in the first weeks, months, year of their lives on reefs. Likely upwards of the stated 99% don't live through the first twelve months. The figure for incidental mortality of those collected for aquarium/trop. use is not nearly so high. Likely some 10-20 percent of collected stock is lost from collection to receipt by wholesalers, with no more than another similar percentage range dying from distribution to the home hobbyists. Of these, likely less than a quarter live for a year in captivity, but this number is much higher than that of "natural" longevity.
   Further, I take exception to the statement that Zebrasoma flavescens (the Yellow Tang) lives forty years in the wild. Some exceedingly small number may live a decade.
    Lastly, as a long-time Kona property owner and dive and aquarium industry writer, it is my experience that the resource and trade is well-managed on Kona.
    There are issues of fisheries, natural stocks limitations in the islands, but only a small and regulated percentage is due to the trop. industry. Both sport diving and aquarium interests have the same/identical goal, protecting and carefully using our natural resources. I urge all to cooperate.
Bob Fenner>
> The article about the fish kill is here... Apparently somebody put some dead yellow tangs in a dumpster:
> http://www.westhawaiitoday.com/articles/2010/01/29/local/local01.txt
> Another thing I was going to mention was this:
> http://www.mauinews.com/page/content.detail/id/526193.html
<... I find it disingenuous to "treat" food and game fish stocks differently than tropicals... and the continual undervaluation of the catch at local level disturbs me>
> Apparently, having had no success with the state legislature, they've turned to the county level.
<Am always hopeful that reason prevails... Unfortunately for the trade, we humans are visually oriented... and the biomass that folks (don't think about but) see captured for aquariums gives them a false presentation of what is "going on" underwater... Better by far for folks to pursue, try to discover real sources of mortality... Sewage and other chemical, biological "run off" likely, along with indigenous fishers (a much larger source of tropical collecting by mass)... Bob Fenner>

Re: Maui aquarium bill making fish pets and subject to humane society enforcement 5/28/2010
Aloha Bob ,
It looks like our Maui County Council is going forward with the Aquarium Bill . < Linked here> Below:
<A shame... let's see, humans aren't animals... Wrong. And it's less humane to de-gas fishes with bladders taken at depth than not? And not clipping the bony/hard rays of some (e.g. Naso) is going to be a bummer for other fishes in the collection, decompression bucket... More nonsense law/s from people who don't know what they're talking/writing about. Is it much wonder our country is in such a hole?>
I was wondering if I could use your emails as a rebuttal against the person who is misquoting your studies and articles??
<Will post in its entirety... Do you have address/es to send input to?>
Again her is a copy of the Bills it appears they want to add another permit on top of this bill.
The meeting will be in Wailuku, Maui June 2, 2010 at 9:00AM in the County Council Chamber.
Any help help be deeply
Mike Blietz
<Thank you for keeping me/us abreast of what's going on in HI Mike. Have you sent this to Marshall Meyers, PIJAC? Bob Fenner, who has>


BILL NO. (2009)




SECTION 1. Section 6.04.010, Maui County Code, is amended by amending the definition of "animal" to read as follows:

""Animal" means any fowl, reptile, aquatic life, or mammal other than a human being."

SECTION 2. Section 6.04.010, Maui County Code, is amended by adding new definitions to be appropriately inserted and to read as follows:

""Aquarium purposes" means to hold salt water fish,

freshwater nongame fish, or other aquatic life alive in a state of captivity as pets, or for public exhibition or display, or for sale for these purposes.

"Aquatic life" means any species or type of mammal, fish, amphibian, reptile, mollusk, crustacean, arthropod, invertebrate, coral, or other animal that inhabits the freshwater or marine environment and includes any part, product, egg, or offspring thereof."

SECTION 3. Section 6.04.040, Maui County Code, is amended to read as follows:

"6.04.040 Animal regulations--general. A. An owner of a dog shall keep the dog under restraint, except the following:

1. A dog being used by law enforcement agencies for law enforcement purposes;

2. A dog used during hunting; accompanied by its owner, and used with the consent of the owner of the real property upon which the hunting occurs;

3. A dog used during organized competitions, or during training for such competitions, accompanied by its owner, and used with the consent of the owner of the real property upon which the dog is used; and

4. A dog being monitored by its owner or handler within the confines of an authorized dog park.

B. An owner of an animal shall treat the animal in a humane manner.

C. An owner of a dog shall not allow the dog to cause a nuisance. The owner shall be held responsible for every behavior of such dog under the provisions of this chapter.

D. No person shall abandon an animal.

E. An owner of a dog shall not intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently permit the dog to:

1. Attack a person or domestic animal; or 2. Behave in a manner that a reasonable person would believe poses an imminent threat of bodily injury to a person or serious injury or death to a domestic animal. The terms "negligently", "intentionally", "knowingly", and "recklessly" shall have the same meaning as are ascribed to the terms in section 702-206, Hawaii

Revised Statutes.

F. No person shall own, harbor, train, or use any dog for the purpose of dog fighting.

G. Any person that collects aquatic life for aquarium purposes shall:

1. Obtain any necessary permits from the division of aquatic resources, department of land and natural resources.

2. Treat aquatic life in a humane manner. For the purposes of this section, inhumane treatment of aquatic life includes intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently:

a. Withholding food for more than twelve hours;

b. Causing injury, including: piercing or deflating a fish's swim bladder; fin or spine trimming; exposing to air; exposing to temperature fluctuations of more than a two degree difference from the water they were collected in; carrying, or causing to be carried, in or upon any vehicle or other conveyance, in a manner resulting in injury to the aquatic life; and c. Causing the death of aquatic life.

3. Document the mortality rates and disposal methods of all aquatic life collected."

SECTION 4. Section 6.04.110, Maui County Code, is amended to read as follows:


"6.04.110 Penalties. A. Any person convicted of a violation of any section or provision of this chapter, except the provisions relating to excessive barking dogs and dangerous dogs, shall be fined not more than $500.

The minimum fine shall be as follows: for a first violation, a fine of not less than $50; for a second violation within five years after a prior violation under this section, a fine of not less than $100; and, for a third violation within five years after two prior violations under this section, a fine of not less than $200.

B. Any person convicted of a violation of any section or provision of this chapter relating to excessive barking dogs shall be fined not more than $500. The minimum fine shall be as follows: for a first violation, a fine of not less than $100; for a second violation within five years after a prior violation under this section, a fine of not less than $200; and, for a third violation within five years after two prior violations under this section, a fine of not less than $500.

C. Any person convicted of a violation of any section or provision of this chapter relating to dangerous dogs shall be fined not more than $1,000 and imprisoned not more than thirty days. The minimum sentence shall be as follows: for a first violation, a fine of not less than $200; for a second violation within five years after a prior violation under this section, a fine of not less than $500; and, for a third violation within five years after two prior violations under this section, a fine of not less than $1,000. In addition, a court may require restitution for damages caused by a dangerous dog; provided, that this section shall not preclude a person damaged by a dangerous dog from pursuing a civil remedy.

D. The portion of the fine equal to the minimum fine shall not be suspended.

E. A successive violation of the same owner involving different dogs shall be considered a subsequent and not a first violation.

F. For purposes of this [Section] section 6.04.110, a violation is defined to include the payment of a fine directly to the district court or the finding of guilt by a court after a contested hearing.

G. Any person convicted of a violation of section 6.04.040.G shall be guilty of a misdemeanor subject to a fine of not less than $500 and not more than $2,000, or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both."


SECTION 5. New material is underscored. In printing this

bill, the County Clerk need not include the underscoring.

SECTION 6. This ordinance shall take effect upon its





Deputy Corporation Counsel

County of Maui




Council of the County of Maui

Meeting Agenda

June 2, 2010 t,..)

9:00 a.m. ....4

Council Chamber, 8th Floor

200 South High Street, Wailuku, Hawaii ......



website: www.mauicountv.gov/committees/PS


AGENDA ITEMS ARE SUBJECT TO CANCELLATION. For a confirmation of the meeting date

Wayne K. Nishiki, Chair and time, and for tentative scheduling of agenda items, please contact the Committee Staff

(Scott Jensen, Scott Kaneshina, or Clarita Balala) at: Office of Council Services, 200 South

Joseph Pontanilla, Vice -Chair

High Street, Wailuku, HI 96793, 808-270-7838, 1-800-272-0026 (toll freefrom Molokai),

1-800-272-0098 (toll-free from Lanai), 808-270-7686 (fax).

Jo Anne Johnson

Sol P. Kaho`ohalahala

ORAL OR WRITTEN TESTIMONY on any agenda item will be accepted. If written testimony is

submitted at the meeting, 16 copies are requested. If written testimony is e-mailed or faxed,

please submit at least 24 hours before the meeting so that copies can be provided to Council

members in a timely manner.

Danny A. Mateo


Bill Kauakea Medeiros REQUIRING SPECIAL ASSISTANCE should call the Office of Council Services at least three

days in advance.

Michael P. Victorino DOCUMENTS ON FILE WITH THE COMMITTEE, which may include correspondence relating

to the agenda items below, may be inspected prior to the meeting date. Photocopies may be

ordered, subject to charges imposed by law (Maui County Code, Sec. 2.64.010). Please

NON-VOTING MEMBERS contact the Office of Council Services to make arrangements for inspection or photocopying of


Gladys C. Baisa


Michael J. Molina Television.


DESCRIPTION: The Committee is in receipt of the following:

1. County Communication No. 09-337, from Council Vice-Chair Michael J. Molina, transmitting a


COUNTY CODE, PERTAINING TO ANIMAL CONTROL". The purpose of the proposed bill is

to regulate the collection of aquatic life.

2. Correspondence dated May 27, 2010, from Councilmember Wayne K. Nishiki, transmitting a draft


PERTAINING TO AQUATIC LIFE OPERATIONS". The purpose of the draft bill is to establish

a licensing regime for aquatic life operations.


Page 2 PS

STATUS: The Committee may consider whether to recommend passage of the proposed bill and the draft bill on

first reading, with or without revisions. The Committee may also consider the filing of County

Communication No. 09-337 and other related action.

ps: 1 00602: scj/skk

Hawaiian Aquarium Fish Collecting Ban       10/24/17
Aloha Bob, I’m a free-diver and have gotten better at catching fish underwater over the years here on the Big Island.
<Definitely a learned skill! And am a BIG fan of the big island>
Its definitely challenging! I use two hand nets and have refrained from using a barrier net over the years. But with interest in collecting harder to capture specimens I been thinking about getting or making one.
<I have articles on such on WWM>
Just when I decided to give it a go they ban aquarium fish collecting.
<Actually; the governor vetoed that bill, thank goodness>
Now I know it’s for retail sale but I can’t get a clear sense if you can still get a license for collecting for personal use.
<I think a fishing license will do it here>
I know the restrictions state that use of a net over 3 feet requires a collectors license. Do you happen to know the status of collecting for personal use out here?
<As stated>
If not, I’ll be contacting DLNR.
<Good idea>
I wanted to get a larger Raccoon BFF for my tide pool / fuge to eat all those Aiptasia! I could keep my extra catches in the Fuge but eventually I’d have to add more water volume, I know. If were to plumb into my existing system a larger display for BFF and Angels would you suggest to keep it a FOWLR system?
<Mmm; I'd keep them in your main/display>
I want to avoid using copper so would be going for prevention with tying it into the existing system for bigger volume / stability. It’s just an idea for now but we all must dream, right!
<Prophylactic pH adjusted freshwater dips should prevent the worst of parasitic introductions. Again, archived on WWM>
This hobby keeps me sane in-between work mode. ;-) With all the cray cray stuff going on in the world we all know we can use a little more peace. Looking forward to ordering and readying your book on BFF! ;-)
In Gratitude,
Sky Kubby
<Be chatting Sky! Hope to be back visiting in Kailua soon. BobF>

Re: Maui aquarium bill making fish pets and subject to humane society enforcement   5/30/2010
I like your comments wish you could be here on Wednesday??
Thanks again for all of your support we are the going
to be bullied on Wednesday I fear
Mike Blietz
<Hey Mike... I do wish I could be there as well. Fight the good fight my friend, a hu'i hou! BobF, just back from Victoria, B.C. and bleary> 

Re: "The Dark Hobby"    9/9/10
Here you go Bob. This looks fine now.
Cheers, Neale
<Thank you Neale. I do want to make known to you that JamesL asked me to respond more substantively (a for-pay editorial to run in the pulp 'zine Coral), and that the blurb posted on his/their blog is something that on his request I dashed off in less than five minutes... And that I am, per his request, penning a piece for inclusion focusing on Zebrasoma flavescens... for pay in Coral. I will send you this draft later (today hopefully) if you'd care to see it. BobF>
Re: "The Dark Hobby"
> Hello Bob,
> Yep, I'd love to see your piece.
> I can well understand that your short piece on the Coral web site skimmed over the details. But it is interesting how quickly your reply has spread out on the aquarium forums; for good or ill, your opinions on this issue seem to carry significant weight.
> Cheers, Neale
Re: "The Dark Hobby"    9/9/10

Hello Bob,
Yep, I'd love to see your piece.
<Ah, will send along presently. It's about half done... idea and word-count wise>
I can well understand that your short piece on the Coral web site skimmed over the details. But it is interesting how quickly your reply has spread out on the aquarium forums; for good or ill, your opinions on this issue seem to carry significant weight.
<Yes... and really, this is more unfortunate (for me) than not. I don't feel/consider that I am "in the field"... Am retired from active work in the trade/industry (since /94), and haven't been engaged in real fisheries work for longer... Thus, it seems presumptuous (of me) to front opinions period... But... someone with such background (ornamental and fisheries) should have come forward... Cheers, B>
Cheers, Neale
"The Dark Hobby"     9/9/10
> Please find a/the draft attached. B
> Hi Bob,
> It reads fine, though it needs a tidy-up re: typos, spellings, lack of spaces between certain words. Certainly has your unique style, which I like, and I suspect many others do, too.
<Welllll... to me it's too much a "qualitative" rendering than quantitative... I would give more numerical data, but for the purpose... this is an editorial... more a rebuttal to Wintner's claims indirectly. Oh, and JamesL will no doubt spiff up the grammar et al.>
> But I'm a bit lost about how this article "replies" to the Wintner piece. Whether you like it or not, there are a lot of hobbyists who'd like to see you respond, as the person "in the know" not just in terms of the business, but Hawaii specifically; see here:
> http://reefbuilders.com/2010/09/01/dark-hobby/
> For example, the comment that says, "Where is Bob Fenner's comments on this?
<They are linked at top and immediately after this comment> 
" I don't like pressuring you this way, but there really aren't that many people who have your gravitas so far as this particular debate goes.
> If I were writing this, I'd be using the yellow tang step by step to expand and/or refute Wintner's points.
<Ahh, Neale... again, I really shouldn't have responded in the first place. My friend, I hope I can make this clear... it is not my desire to become embroiled in a controversy w/ someone who has no idea of what he's talking about in factual terms, but instead wants to "shout" noise re his stance, no matter what the data. Perhaps this sort of "communicating" is best left to younger, more vocal/bombastic types>
 If the yellow tang is an indicator species, as Wintner seems to be suggesting, what does it tell us about the trade?
<Unfortunately, in this case, that this species may well be over-exploited>
 Why is he overreacting?
<PR, revenue from same, notoriety...>
 What can local lawmakers do?
<Put the trade out of business...>
 And so on.
> Cheers, Neale
<And you, BobF>
"The Dark Hobby" Neale's Letter to JamesL of Coral/Microcosm    9/9/10
> Dear James,
> I have read with interest Robert Wintner's piece on the possible overfishing of reef fish by the aquarium industry as well as Bob Fenner's response on your web site. Although both gentlemen make valid points, both have oversimplified the situation in terms of biology, and in doing so, some of the shades of grey between their positions may be lost.
> Mr. Wintner appears to be starting from a view that fishing is comparable to whaling. Certainly, overfishing can cause as many problems as intensive whaling, and as Mr. Fenner suggests, any given population of animals will support a maximum number of individuals that humans can remove without undermining the long-term viability of that population, what fisheries scientists call a maximum sustainable yield or MSY. However, there are important differences between whale populations and fish populations. Whales are what ecologists term K-selected organisms: they are big, mature slowly, produce small numbers of offspring, and those offspring individually have a high probability of reaching sexual maturity. Over time K-selected organisms tend to maintain populations that vary very little, and stick closely to about the maximum number their environment can stand; hence the letter K stands for "carrying capacity".
> Most fish are different, as are virtually all non-Cnidarian invertebrates. They instead form a group known as r-selected organisms: they are small, grow rapidly, produce huge numbers of offspring, and those offspring individually have a low probability of reaching sexual maturity. Unlike K-selected organisms that exhibit steady populations, populations of r-selected organisms fluctuate up and down all the time, booming in some years, and crashing in others. So the letter r stands for "rate of reproduction" since these organisms rely on being able to rapidly exploit resources when they're available, and then being able to bounce back quickly should resources fail and their population crash.
> Mr. Wintner and the Sea Shepherd foundation have been doing their best to limit commercial whaling. That's a laudable aim precisely because whales are K-selected organisms. It may take a whale decades to reach sexual maturity, mothers produce just a single calf at a time, and that calf may remain with the mother for several years, effectively taking its mother out of the population for the duration so far as reproduction goes. In other words, over a 60-year lifespan, a female whale might only produce half a dozen offspring. Obviously, killing even a small number of adults will have a huge impact on whale populations because the ability of survivors to make good any losses is extremely limited. An extreme example is the Atlantic Right Whale, which hasn't been hunted commercially for more than 100 years, and yet there's little sign that the population is growing at all, simply because the surviving adults produce no more offspring than natural mortality and accidents with large ships remove from the population.
> A fish like a yellow tang is completely different. Individual fish will reach sexual maturity within a year, and females will produce thousands if not tens of thousands of eggs every time they mate. The eggs and sperm mix in the seawater, and the fertilised eggs drift off in the plankton where they can potentially develop into juvenile fish within a relatively short space of time. However, mortality during this phase is immense. In fact hardly any juveniles survive this process. Some aspects of mortality will be familiar to aquarists, for example predation by predators feeding on the plankton: arrow worms, pteropods, filter-feeding fish, and so on. But others are less familiar, in particular the importance of synchronicity between when fish breed and the cycles of other planktonic organisms. I don't know much about tangs, but certainly for fish like the Atlantic herring there's a narrow window of opportunity bounced by starvation on the one side and predators and toxins on the other. If the herrings breed too early in the year, there isn't enough algae for the developing fry to eat; if they breed too late, Dinoflagellate populations are so high their toxins can kill the fry. In some years the herrings mis-time their breeding and virtually no offspring survive. Other years they get it right and so many offspring survive they make up the failures of previous years. While the details surely vary between fish species, this basic pattern is probably significant in most cases.
> Another factor aquarists are less familiar with comes after the planktonic stage, the stage that biologists refer to as recruitment in the sense that these organisms are being recruited by a given habitat or location. Older fry or for that matter metamorphosed invertebrates like hermit crabs don't just magically settle down on the reef and then go on to live happy lives! Finding the right place to live, and then finding the resources they need to successfully settle down, are both very difficult challenges. Many, perhaps most late-stage planktonic juveniles don't arrive where they need to be. Ocean currents carry them to hostile environments, for example the open ocean, or places that are too hot or too cold for them. In the big picture that's fine; these animals cannot cover long distances as adults, and the species rely on planktonic currents to carry their juveniles into new habitats. It wasn't adult yellow tangs that swam across the Pacific Ocean from Indonesia to Hawaii! It was their offspring that drifted there, and as the volcanoes produced new islands, so the planktonic offspring of corals, crustaceans, molluscs and fish arrived on those islands, settled down, and created the coral reefs we know so well. But even larger numbers probably ended up in places where they were doomed. Some simply ran out of time, halfway across the Pacific they metamorphosed into something that needed solid ground, and consequently they starved or otherwise died. The fact you find sessile organisms like barnacles and mussels on floating debris is a reminder of how many of these organisms there are thousands of miles from the nearest coastline.
> Even if they arrive on a coral reef, there's no guarantees they'll find ecological space. Remember, the stiffest threat any species faces is competition from its own kind. Empty but intact shells are rare, and hermit crabs have to fight one another to secure them. Territorial reef fish that need caves (such as groupers) or cultivate patches of algae (such as damselfish) have no guarantees at all that they will find such resources or be able to hold onto them. Since bigger individuals are stronger than smaller ones, newcomers to the reef, i.e., the juveniles, are the ones most likely to lose out. In other words, there are many hermit crabs and reef fish that settle out from the plankton onto the reef after metamorphosis, but die for one reason or another because they can't find or secure the resources they need.
> A parallel might be drawn with mariculture of mussels. There's plenty of food for them, but intertidal hard grounds where they can live are limited. Mussel farmers use a variety of techniques to attract juvenile mussels (known as spat) from the plankton onto their farms. Once there, they can maintain commercially significant populations of mussels that may be harvested annually, without any harm to the wild mussels. Why? Because the spat the farmers are collecting would have died if they hadn't been captured and farmed! Mussels produce far more offspring than their habitat can normally sustain, so all the farmers are doing is removing natural "wastage". It would not be difficult to extrapolate this to, for example, the farming of clean-up crew hermit crabs by using shells, perhaps even artificial ones, that would house hermit crabs that in the wild would not have survived to sexual maturity.
> The upside to r-selected organisms is that they undo human carelessness quite quickly. It may well be that poorly managed collecting has reduced tubeworm or hermit crab populations on certain reefs. But provided those habitats remain in good shape, and if exploitation is suspended for a period of time, there's no reason at all not to expect them to be back within a few years. Parallels can be drawn from commercial fisheries for species like herring and lobster, where multi-year bans have allowed populations to bounce back. Once recovered, sensible management of a new fishery can ensure its long-term viability.
> So far, much of what I've said concurs with Mr. Fenner's point of view. Just as he points out, if in fact 99% of the marine fish captured do indeed die within a year, that's not very different to the proportion that die anyway. However, there is complexity to this, and going by the maximum sustainable yield alone doesn't paint the full picture. Indeed, what I've stated above only looks at things from the perspective of a single species. Where Mr. Wintner may have a point is once entire ecosystems are examined.
> Simply because you can remove a certain number of yellow tangs without harming the long-term security of that species tells you nothing about what removal of yellow tangs does to the coral reef. Depressed populations of yellow tangs may remain viable, but the algae the removed tangs used to eat is now no longer being eaten by them. It may be consumed by other species that, for one reason or another, couldn't compete with the yellow tangs. Many aquarists will be familiar with the tensions between those species that farm algae, like damselfish, and those that bulldoze into those algae farms and eat everything they can find, like schooling surgeonfish. Energy always flows through ecosystems, and if doesn't go through a yellow tang, it'll go through something else. Fewer yellow tangs could mean more damselfish, more sea urchins, more snails. Who knows? It's very, very difficult to predict. But there are well-studied examples of what happens in situations like this. One example from the Mediterranean involves mackerel and squid; heavy mackerel fishing didn't exterminate them, but it did allow the squid populations to increase dramatically. There's some suggestion that overfishing sharks (classic K-selected animals) in the Pacific has allowed Humboldt squid (r-selected animals) to become far more numerous.
> The bottom line is that the maximum sustainable yield metric is a very crude one, and without a better understanding of coral reef ecosystems, determining the optimal size for a given fishery will be very difficult.
> Mr. Fenner's argument than wild fish populations may experience 99% turnover rates is also somewhat misleading. So far as planktonic and recruitment-stage individuals go, that's probably not far off the mark. Suppose a yellow tang female produces 10,000 eggs, even if 99% of those offspring fail in the first year, there will still be 100 of her descendants left, a pretty good rate of return. In all probability, she'd be very lucky if even that proportion survived. However, mortality after recruitment tends to drop dramatically, and continues to decline with age, at least up to the point where a fish or invertebrate gets so old it stops working properly. Yearling tangs probably have mortality rates far below 99%, and these are the ones that are breeding. So where Mr. Wintner does have a point is that because ornamental fish fisheries are targeting subadult and adult specimens rather than planktonic fish or recruits, the effects of a 99% mortality are in fact very serious. As aquarists buy new fish to replace those that died during the preceding year, more subadults and adults have to be removed from the reef. Put another way, while r-selected species can tolerate quite heavy mortality rates, in the wild this will be strongest on the juveniles, and less so on the adults. Aquarium collectors are operating the other way, taking the subadult and adult fish, which are the ones r-selected species are most dependent on for long-term survival. For a species like the yellow tang to do well, there needs to be a certain number of adults spawning each year.
> There is an insidious aspect to this overlooked by aquarists. By targeting big or colourful specimens, the gene pool changes. Here we might examine the Atlantic cod, which in times past typically reached adult lengths of around 6 feet. Modern specimens are barely half that size. Over the last century, there's been a clear trend towards cod that reach sexual maturity at smaller sizes. Those are the ones that fisheries don't target so much, and those are the ones that get to breed at least a few times before they die or are caught by fishermen. By contrast, those cod that needed to reach a large size before the became sexually mature never had a chance to breed, so their "big" genes weren't passed on. Gradual changes to the size of a fish species like this will have follow-on effects in terms of its relationships with both prey and predator; smaller fish can consume smaller prey profitably, but smaller fish will also be easier targets for predators that couldn't handle larger fish of the same species. In terms of colouration, we simply don't understand why coral reef fish are so colourful, but where we see species that occur in a range of colours, targeting one particular morph may make that species less able to adapt to the range of habitats it exploits, or perhaps alter the social or behavioural interactions between individuals, symbiotes, or whatever.
> Of course Mr. Fenner is quite right to point out that ornamental fish collection is a fairly trivial threat to coral reefs, though at a local level there may very well be a real threat to particular species. Human activities of various sorts do far more harm, from coastal development through to climate change. The recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico highlighted this perfectly. Damage from oil spills is relatively short-term and while obviously not beneficial, within a few decades even the worst oil spills seem to fade away with no long-term damage to the ecosystem affected. Yet the people most vociferously complaining about the oil spill included fishermen and hoteliers. The long-term damage caused by draining a mangrove or salt marsh to create a marina or a beachfront hotel is immense and for all practical purposes permanent. Habitat vital to coastal fish and the juvenile stages of many offshore species is gone for good. Without the natural shore defences provided by mangroves especially, coastal erosion and the damage done by freak storms increases. Shrimp fisheries are notoriously damaging, year after year catching immense quantities of so-called bycatch that is returned to the sea either dead or dying; the Gulf of Mexico fishery has been described by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership as "unsustainable" thanks in part to "high levels of bycatch" and "impacts on threatened species". According to the FAO, out of what a typical Gulf of Mexico trawl hauls aboard, only 26% is shrimp; the rest is a variety of fish and invertebrates of no commercial value to the shrimp fishermen, and so it's thrown overboard, dead. The human species has an astonishing ability to focus on the trivial while ignoring the urgent.
> Even if you allow Mr. Wintner's basic point to stand, that ornamental fish collecting is broadly bad, it may well be the price you have to pay for the security of the coral reefs. An analogy might be drawn with foxhunting. Many ecologists have pointed out that while chasing and then killing this little dog-like animal isn't very nice, the upside is that farmers and other landowners set aside woodland and hedgerow to "cultivate" foxes. Without that incentive, such preserves may be ripped up to provide farmland or property developments, with a net loss of not just foxes but all sorts of other wildlife as well. Sure, people could fly out to Hawaii and spend time with Mr. Wintner enjoying his excellent tours and availing themselves of his fine SCUBA equipment. But the carbon footprint of me flying across to Hawaii is a good deal greater than me buying a yellow tang. If a tankful of marine fish is what it takes to monetise the Hawaii reef, then that at least places a dollar value on the long-term maintenance of that reef and careful regulation of its fisheries. Without that incentive, there's a tendency to minimise the importance of natural resources where more obviously commercial ones, like beachfront property and tourism, can be promoted.
> My apologies, James, for making this such a long letter. But I wanted to stress as clearly as I could that there are uncertainties within the arguments put forward by both Mr. Wintner and Mr. Fenner, both of whom I'm sure have the best of intentions as well as demonstrable concern for coral reefs generally. To try to simplify things down to "collecting bad" or "collecting good" overlooks the need for a better understanding of how populations work and the knock-on effects between species populations. Without making an effort to quantify the value of a pristine or managed coral reef, getting lawmakers to preserve them will be all but impossible. 
Thank you for this Neale. Might I post it on WWM? BobF 

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