Hawaii aquarium trade impacts


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Millions of reef animals are taken from Hawaii's nearshore reefs for sale in the marine aquarium hobby.
This presentation details the impacts and advocates for ending the use of coral reef wildlife in the marine aquarium trade and hobby.

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  • Property values within 100 meters of the coast. 1.5% of sale price attributable to marine ecosystem
  • 2X under and non-reporting factored in
  • So while they claim to be model citizens, clearly it’s not the case.
  • All species taken are native but 45% are also endemic.
  • Kona Coast
  • A tropical fish collector from Oahu flew to Kauai for a collecting trip in Aug. 2010, wherehe found, collected and sold a Masked Angelfish for $6500.A month later he flew back to capture more, but died from dive related injuries.
  • DLNR/NOAA 2010 reportTrade is taking 80% of paku’ikui living in the 30 – 60 ft. range
  • Dive operator who took this photo reported it was the first Teardrop they’d seen on this reef in years…
  • The farther the destination from Hawaii, the more that arrive dead. These death rates would never be tolerated for any other animal in the pet trade.
  • Reasons why premature deaths matter (Wood, 2001):1. Every fish that dies early puts extra pressure on natural resources because of the take of replacements. There is a general consensus in many countries that it is not ethical to trade in live animals, unless their health and welfare are ensured, Unnecessary and early deaths give the trade a poor image.
  • These all occur on at least one trade list of animals unsuitable for the hobby or having high death rates/being very difficult to keep alive.
  • Stress, injury disease and early death result from these practices.Flame Angel image from Marshall Islands import where it’s not uncommon for 100% of the shipment to arrive dead and average DOA is ~40% per Secretariat of the Pacific
  • harvesting purely for economic gain, the inhumane treatment, high mortality and needless waste violates this core traditional Hawaiian value.What has been called a user conflict, to be resolved by dividing the reefs into collected vs. protected areas, was a band-aid measure that has failed to address the underlying issues that won’t be solved with set asides.
  • If action will likely have significant environmental effect, an assessment must be conducted prior to the activity
  • It is our kuleana to care for what is Hawaii's.Our responsibility to care for them doesn't end once they're scooped up and shipped off. Mainland consumer demand should not trump what is best for Hawaii’s wildlife and reefs. DAR is proposing additional management measures, agreed to in the compromise over a decade ago, but, to date, successfully stalled by the trade. One, called a “white list”, would limit the number of species taken from over 250 to just 40. It is part of a rule package currently being reviewed by the AG.The other is a program to cap the number of permits which DAR hopes would also reduce the number of collectors. This measure has been pulled from the rule package.Both would actually make matters worse: Common sense says that by focusing efforts onto fewer species, the “white list” will accelerate depletion of those 40 species, just as focusing collection efforts onto fewer areas has harmed those areas.  Capping permits would do little to reduce the impacts & concerns. Florida is a good example for us showing that despite a 50% reduction in the number of licenses issued since 1994, aquarium take is up 10-fold, and has prompted some scientists to issue a collapse warning.
  • Sample only: all 40 species on the white list have similar issues: over 1/2 are known as especially poor survivors in captivity, making it a few months at best before dying; over 1/3 are species unique to Hawaii and considered by DLNR as highly threatened by the trade; and others already show declining populations.
  • Hawaii aquarium trade impacts

    1. 1. The Case for Ending Hawaii‟s Reef Wildlife Trade A Review of the Impacts“…fish left on the reef benefit the reef, as well as Hawaii’s economy.” -March 2008 Legislative findings by the Hawai`i State Senate in SB 3225 ForTheFishes.org October 2011
    2. 2. In Hawaii, it’s illegal to take rocks from the ocean. Corals are fully protected, too.But coral reef wildlife is taken in limitless numbers. Their populations are collapsing. 2
    3. 3. History1953:Aquarium collecting permits required(trade focused on Oahu)1973:Concerns about impacts promptsadministration to issue a moratoriumon collecting.Moratorium lifted two days prior tocommencement to allow for studies.1977:Environmental Quality Commissionand DLNR asked if EIS required.EQC: EIS may be appropriateDLNR: not necessary 3
    4. 4. History1980‟s – ‟90‟s Oahu:3 major storms + over-collecting leadto commercial collapse;collection shifts to West HawaiiLate 1990‟s West Hawaii:Studies show detrimental effects;thousands call for a ban;Compromise leads to 35% areaclosure beginning Jan. 1, 2000.2000 – 2010 West Hawaii:Yellow tangs increase in FRA‟s butdecrease further in open areas;common species become rare 4
    5. 5. Harm to Fish Populations – Pre FRA‟s 38% 43%39%56% 97% 49%55% 42% Tissot, Walsh, Hallacher (2004) 5
    6. 6. Healthy coral reefs are essential to the socio-economic well-being of Hawaii‟s residentsBenefits:  Educational  Physical (protect coastal areas; food..)  Social, Recreational  For future generations  Cultural & Spiritual  Economic  Biological, Ecological 6HCRI, NOAA – Economic Value of Hawaii’s Nearshore Reef
    7. 7. Annual Added Value – Statewide Reef Wildlife Viewing (Snorkeling/Diving)  $306 million  Thousands employed Property/Amenity Value  $40 million Aquarium trade  $1.2 million  <100 full time collectors 6
    8. 8. Total Economic Value Americans place the value of Hawaii‟s coral reefs at $34 billion annually.  Equal to the market value of ESPN and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (according to Forbes magazine). People believe Hawaii‟s coral reefs are worth protecting and restoring for future generations. 6
    9. 9. Healthy coral reefs are imperative to the socio-economic well-being of Hawaii‟s residents According to a 1998 DLNR report, the aquarium trade is a major source of coral reef degradation in Hawaii*  Significantly alters the ecosystem  Takes essential algae & parasite eating fish  Damages and breaks coral  Focuses on Hawaii‟s most beautiful & unique species  Depletes populations of targeted species* DLNR 1998 State of the Reefs Report 9
    10. 10. Aquarium trade a main cause ofcoral reef degradation.Major impacts on Hawaii Islandand Oahu. 10
    11. 11. Aquarium Trade Threats to Ecosystem Disrupts food webs Interferes with complex ecosystem  Cleaner wrasse removes parasites  High biodiversity key to stability  Herbivores keep algae in check 11
    12. 12. What happens to reefs that lose too many herbivores? 80% of fish collected are herbivores. “…[herbivore ] removal can result in algal overgrowth of coral and catastrophic shifts in the ecosystem.” -2007 U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Working Group 12
    13. 13. Harm to Reef StructureCoral is broken and damaged when:• Nets entangle it when set or retrieved• Material is laid over it to block access to refuge• Sticks are hit against it to herd fish into nets or out of hiding• Collectors kneel, kick, and lay equipment on it• Collectors break it apart to get at hiding fish Collection vessel anchored in Kohala coast coral 2/15/11. Collector‟s bucket and scooter in the coral 2/15/11. (DLNR, 1998; Stevenson, 2011) 13
    14. 14. Where Have All The Fish Gone? “Severe overfishing for the aquarium trade exists even in the United States.*” The equivalent of 1 reef animal every 23 seconds is taken by the trade. That‟s about ~6.3 million animals since 2007. To the*What Do We Know About Coral Reefs, International Trade in Coral Reef Animals and mainland…the Urgent Need for Action?, U.S. Coral Reef Task Force. 12
    15. 15. 2010 Statewide Aquarium HarvestCatch Report Graph 1,500,000+ 2,000,000 702,564 1,000,000 Estimated Actual: 2X - 5X … 0 Reported Catch Historically ~ 47% of Required Catch Reports Not Filed Reports Never Verified w/ Actual Catch may be 2 – 5 times higher than reported.* * Dan Polhemus, former DAR State Administrator, Dec. 09 15
    16. 16. Problems Managing Coral Reef Wildlife Trade as a Fishery Fishery:  Achieve maximum sustainable yield  All animals considered dead, once taken  Ecosystem roles & socio-economic values ignored Wildlife as Pets: • Universally discouraged/prohibited • Carries legal and ethical responsibilities • Provide life sustaining care • No harm, injury, killing without need Coral Reef Animals: • Play essential & fundamental roles in ecosystem • Have high aesthetic, recreational, cultural values 16
    17. 17. 45% Top 20 Collected Species are Endemic Endemism: the ecological state of being unique to a placeAt 23 percent, Hawaii‟s reefs have the highest rate of endemism on Earth. Precious natural legacy 17
    18. 18. Most Collected Hawai`i Endemics 1. Potter‟s Angelfish 2. Multiband Butterflyfish 3. Milletseed Butterflyfish 4. Hawaiian White-Spotted Toby 5. Psychedelic Wrasse 6. Saddle Wrasse 7. Hawaiian Cleaner Wrasse 8. Blue-Striped Butterflyfish 9. Hawaiian Dascyllus“… there is no replacement pool for many of thetargeted species, should over collection or ahabitat shift occur, as a result of the marineornamental trade.”Hawaii Audubon Society. 2004. “The Marine Aquarium Trade in the Western Hemisphere and the Indo-pacific Region.” 32pp 18
    19. 19. Targeted Endemic Species Once Common, Now Rare in West Hawaii Blue-Striped Butterflyfish Bandit Angelfish Now beingHawaiian Lionfish being taken from Kaua‟i 19
    20. 20. Some Species Taken from Kauai Since 2007Others: Potters Angelfish Bandit AngelfishBicolor AnthiasYellow TangCrosshatch HumuLongnose HawkfishPufferfishesBlack DurgonZebra MorayMasked Angelfish: one of therarest fish in the world.Wholesale value: $6,500 ea. Hawaiian Lionfish 20
    21. 21. Negative Impacts of Marine Aquarium Trade Threatens Survival of Wild Populations  Especially the Targeted Endemic Species  Selective Harvest of Juveniles “Trade in ornamental marine fishes tends to be characterized by extreme selective harvesting. For all species, juveniles are preferentially targeted by aquarium fish collectors…” From Ocean to Aquarium – The Global Trade in Marine Ornamental Species; United Nations Environmental Program 21
    22. 22. Negative Impacts of Marine Aquarium Trade Threatens Survival of Wild Populations  Especially the Targeted Endemic Species  Selective Harvest of Juveniles Removal of Pre-reproductive Fish  Interrupts Food Chains  Causes Reproductive Failure  Alters Habitat Fisheries use Minimum Size Limits  This Standard is Absent from Hawaii Collection Rules 22
    23. 23. Examples of Species & Family Depletion on West Hawaii Reefs1999 Since 1999 Butterflyfish Abundance* 75% 49% 55% 97% 56% *Puako and Honaunau 21
    24. 24. The First Sighting in Years… Captured!A fish collector takes a Teardrop Butterflyfish from Black Point Caves on Feb. 15, 2011. 24
    25. 25. Yellow Tang Population Impact Gap caused by ~30 collectors Collectors have decreased the population by additional 45%Green line represents the 65% of West Hawaii since closures coastline open to collecting 25
    26. 26. What Drives Collection Rates?• Premature Deaths • Up to 40% of Hawaii‟s wildlife dies before reaching the hobbyist. • 50% of Hawaii‟s Top 20 fish ARE NOT guaranteed to arrive alive when purchased through online retailers. • Hobbyist Drop Out • The average hobbyist drops out within a year. • Deaths caused by beginner hobbyists are “astronomical”. 26
    27. 27. How Long Can Fish Live? On a reef: Waikiki Aquarium:Yellow Tangs can live for 40+ years Potter‟s Angel: 14 years(Bushnell & Claisse, 2007) Sailfin Tang: 15 yearsBluespine unicornfish can achieve 58.(HI Div. of Aquatic Resources) Raccoon Butterflyfish: 22 yearsParrotfish: at least 33(Choat & Robertson 2002) (Randall and Delbeek, Sept. 2009, from a list of species that lived from 13 – 24 years at the Waikiki Aquarium.) Wildlife taken for the hobby: 20 years ago: “Virtually none (<1%) live more than a year in captivity.” * 2009: “These numbers have improved slightly in the last several years...” *** Fenner, 2011; ** Fenner, 2009 27
    28. 28. High Mortalities  Short Captive Life-spans  Unsuitable Species50% of Hawaii‟s top 20 species are sodifficult to keep alive they appear on tradelists of species unsuitable for the averageaquarist or the hobby, in general. “The term „unsuitable species‟ means species that are unlikely to survive shipment or captivity for a considerable proportion of their potential lifespan.” (MAC 2001; Sadovy 2002) 28
    29. 29. High Mortality Species From Hawaii‟s Top 20 List Achilles Tang Psychedelic Wrasse Chevron Tang Hawaiian Cleaner WrasseMultiband Butterflyfish Ornate Wrasse Fourspot Butterflyfish Moorish Idol Teardrop Butterflyfish Potter‟s Angelfish Bluestripe Butterflyfish 27
    30. 30. Practices Contributing to Early Death Fins and spines are cut to avoid packing in layers.Swim bladders pierced for faster surfacing Handling removes protective mucous coating Fish starved for 2 – 10 days prior to shipment. Starvation continues throughout the Exposure to air for just a few seconds chain of custody. takes 30 days for full recovery 30
    31. 31. Hawaii‟s Animal Cruelty LawState law generally prohibits many harmful trade practices.Maui County‟s 2011 landmark law expressly prohibits them: 31
    32. 32. Cultural and Ethical Conflicts Malama aina: “…asking permission prior to fishing, taking only what you need, sharing your catch with your extended „ohana or community and having respect for the sacredness of the process.”* Needless deaths/waste justified by trade: “…the livestock necessary to drive purchases of lucrative dry-goods.”*** Brian Tissot, Washington State University,Integral Marine Ecology: Community-Based Fishery Management in Hawaii, 2005** Bob Fenner, trade expert/author defending the high mortalities on his website: 32www.wetwebmedia.com/marlifeusebiz.htm (2009)
    33. 33. Public Benefit / Policy Conflicts High Cost / No Public Benefit:  Numerous Harmful Impacts  Employs ~30 Full time collectors  Generates ~$30,000 in excise taxes 31
    34. 34. Environmental / Legal Conflicts Trade‟s environmental harm is well documented  Trade‟s environmental impacts never assessed (per HEPA)  2010 DLNR Sought HEPA Exemption  EA is Cost Prohibitive 32
    35. 35. West Hawaii Attempted Solutions Limit Areas  Protects Areas/Sacrifices species Limit Permits (nothing pending)  Florida permits down by 50% but take is up 10-fold. Limit Species (pending White List)  Controversial  Enforcement ? 33
    36. 36. 36 34
    37. 37. Protect Wildlife & Reefs: Progress Report2007 – 2009: statewide legislative efforts blocked2010 – 2011: Maui County passes two landmark lawsFeb. 2011: bill to ban the trade statewide is blocked • Overwhelming community support for ban • Call for a ban continuesOct. 2011: Hawaii County Council Passes Resolution to BanNov. 2011: Kauai County Council Passes Resolution to Ban 37
    38. 38. How Can You Help?1) Donate to support our efforts.2) Tell the Governor and state lawmakers that you support a ban.3) Spread the word – many people are unaware of the trade and it‟s impacts.4) Sign up for Action Alerts!5) Ask aquarium owners to stop buying wild caught animals. Learn more on our website Please support efforts to keep Hawaii’s wildlife on Hawaii’s reefs. Together we can make a difference! 38
    39. 39. Mahalo! 39