Ending Coral Reef Wildlife Trafficking
for the Aquarium Hobby

98% of all saltwater aquarium animals are wild caught. 

Upwards of a million or more reef animals are captured annually on Hawaii's coral reefs and shipped to the mainland U.S., Europe and Asia for sale in the saltwater aquarium hobby. Mortality rates are astronomical. From the point of capture, up to 40 percent of Hawaii's Yellow Tangs will die before reaching the hobbyist. 

January 2010:  Over 600 fish, captured for the aquarium trade, found dead in a Big Island harbor dumpster.

In hobby tanks, m
ost of the rest will die within weeks or months from stress related disease; from cramped or failed environments; from improper food; and, generally because the vast majority of those att
empting to keep them are too inexperienced. Though Yellow Tangs are extremely long lived in the wild, with an average age of 11 years on  a protected reef, by some estimates, just a few percent of coral reef wildlife will survive over a year in captivity.

Studies have shown that collecting Hawaii's most beautiful and unique species for the aquarium hobby has caused their populations to decline by 14% - 97% on unprotected reefs.

Hawaii's fishes and critters have no protections from the trade though harvesting or harming coral and rock (!) in Hawaii has been illegal for decades,.

For a $50 annual license and permit, commercial collectors have access to every living animal on every reef in Hawaii that isn't protected - virtually 99% of Hawaii's coral reefs are impacted by this industry.

Please join the grass-roots efforts of citizens concerned about the harvesting, welfare and trafficking of Hawaii's coral reef animals for the marine aquarium hobby.



Jan. 2016: 
For the Fishes and our mobile app, Tank Watch, has been selected as a Prize Winner in the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge, a USAID initiative in partnership with the National Geographic Society, the Smithsonian Institution, and TRAFFIC. 

Tank Watch - The Good fish/Bad fish Tool for Saltwater Aquariums is aimed at reducing consumer demand for coral reef wildlife -- most of which has been captured unsustainably from the wild. Few people realize that 98% of the fish seen in saltwater tanks can't be bred in captivity and that many were captured with cyanide and other destructive methods.

We wish to acknowledge our partners at The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International and Aysling, whose generous sponsorship has enabled us to offer Tank Watch for FREE.  Tank Watch for Apple products is available now. Stay tuned for Tank Watch for Androids.

Tens of millions of reef fish and their coral homes die every year for the saltwater aquarium hobby. You can help make a difference with a donation to help us get Tank Watch into the hands of aquarium hobbyists around the world.


Oct. 2015: 
Two Hawaii environmental agencies determine that the aquarium trade is subject to review and environmental assessment under the Hawaii
Environmental Policy Act.
They urge an emergency moratorium on the collection of reef wildlife for aquarium purposes due to unprecedented and ongoing coral bleaching events across the state.

Sept. 2015: 
Reefs across Hawaii experience unprecedented coral bleaching.

Feb. 2015: 
Thousands submit testimony to Hawaii legislators supporting strong regulations on the aquarium trade, but lawmakers refuse to enact meaningful legislation. Instead they craft a compromise that favors the status quo and does little to protect reefs and wildlife. Bills are then deferred until the 2016 session when no action will be taken due to legislators fear of controversy in election years.

May 2014: 
For the Fishes Director Rene Umberger unharmed after vicious underwater attack by wildlife trafficker. Umberger was documenting aquarium trade and other harmful practices on Hawaii's reefs. The attacker was convicted in Feb. 2015 of terroristic threatening. 

Dec. 2013:  ignoring thousands of postcards urging an end to the AQ trade, 2,590 testimonies opposing the AQ rules, and the ongoing lawsuit to compel the state to adhere to its own environmental law, Hawaii's Governor signs unenforceable aquarium trade rules into law.

For the record the AQ testimonies were:  2,590 opposed (554 from Hawaii) and 875 support (500 from Hawaii).

2012:  Earthjustice files lawsuit on behalf of citizens and conservations groups to require Hawaii resource management agency to protect HI reefs from unlimited aquarium trade collection.

Results from a public opinion poll commissioned by The Humane Society of the U.S. and Humane Society International show an overwhelming majority of Hawaii residents want to see an end to commercial aquarium collection. 80% of Big Island residents want Hawaii County to do whatever it can, as Maui County did, should the state fail to act.

Reef fish deaths in Petco stores prompt protests on Maui and later on Oahu. Petco ceases sales of yellow tangs and kole in Hawaii stores, but refuses to switch to ONLY captive bred and continues to offer all Hawaii species in its mainland and internet outlets. Trade journal attributes refusal to cease wildlife sales as concern over potential lost revenues from disinterested hobbyists.

2011:  Hawaii, Kauai and Maui county elected officials urge a ban the aquarium trade.  Marine scientist, Dr. Gail Grabowsky, reports that species taken by the aquarium trade are down by 90% on Oahu's reefs.

2010/2011:  Maui County becomes the first in Hawaii to protect coral reef wildlife from the aquarium trade.


Working to Keep Hawaii's Reef Animals on Hawaii's Reefs!