Coral Reef Wildlife Trafficking for a Hobby 

98% of all saltwater aquarium animals are wild caught. 

Every year, millions of reef animals are collected on Hawaii's coral reefs and shipped to the mainland U.S., Europe and Asia for use in the aquarium hobby. Mortality rates are astronomical. Between capture and retail, 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.



*Based on 2007 - 2010 reported take with conservative 2X under and non-reporting factored in
(actual take estimated at 2 - 5X reported take).

Please help us stop the counter:
Dec. 2013:  ignoring the thousands of postcards urging an end to the AQ trade, and the 2,590 testimonies opposing the AQ rules, Gov. Abercrombie signs the bogus rules into law.

Summer 2013: 
Bill Walsh is at it again.. releasing a brief, "South Kohala Reefs in Dire Straits", documenting alarming steep declines in reef fish and blaming the declines on SCUBA spearfishing, despite the fact that the majority of the fish in the report are taken by the AQ trade, species not speared and not eaten. Worse, the report is based on data he's had since 2008 when he concluded that the trends were so obvious, more surveys weren't required in 2009. 

Spring 2013: 
as a result of overwhelming testimony opposing the AQ rules, Hawaii state worker Bill Walsh and his boss, ex-aquarium collector Bill Aila, take matters into their own hands and throw out 2,390 opposition testimonies as "comments only".

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

Dec. 2012:  Hawaii state worker, Bill Walsh, responsible for receiving testimony on proposed AQ trade rules will stop at nothing to get his pet project passed, as exemplified by his responses to organizations with members submitting opposition testimony and urging them to change their position. He also sends out an email blast intentionally stifling dissent with a statement that opposition to any aspect of the rules will kill the entire package.

Nov. 2012:
Public hearings announced for Dec. 5 to take comments on proposed aquarium trade rules.  Get Oahu Rule Fact Sheet Here. Get West Hawaii/Big Island Fact Sheet Here.

Oct. 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.

Spring 2012:  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.

Winter 2012: 
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.



Fall 2011:
  • Hawaii, Kauai and Maui county elected officials urge the State legislature, the Dept. of Land & Natural Resources and the Governor to ban the aquarium trade.
  • Marine scientist, Dr. Gail Grabowsky, reports that species taken by the aquarium trade are down by 90% on Oahu's targeted reefs

Spring 2011:  Years of efforts in Yellow Tang captive culture result in "a handful" of larvae surviving to 14 days. Hailed as a milestone by insiders, commercially available captive bred Yellow Tangs are still years away, if at all possible.  Read more...

2010/2011:  Maui County becomes the first in Hawaii to protect coral reef wildlife from the aquarium trade by requiring those capturing  them to obtain County permits (tax clearances and fees required) and to abide by Hawaii's animal cruelty law; it also expressly prohibits the trade's harmful handling and shipping practices!

Mahalo for speaking up For the Fishes!

Other News:

For the Fishes                                                           
Protecting Coral Reef Wildlife From the Aquarium Trade

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