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Hawaii’s Tropical Fish Being Decimated by Aquarium Collectors

Media Briefing and Conservation Call on Actions to Protect Tropical Fish, Sea Turtles and Whales in Hawaii and U.S. West Coast

When: MONDAY, OCT. 11, 11 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time
Call: 218-936-7979; Passcode 395511. (Private interviews also being scheduled.
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Who: Hawaii Conservationist, Author and Reef Photographer Robert Wintner in San Francisco Bay Area to Warn of Uncontrolled Tropical Fish Collection by Aquarium Collectors

Marin-based Ocean Advocate Teri Shore Reports on First Capture of a Pacific Leatherback in California Drift Gillnet Fishery in Nearly a Decade

Robert “Snorkel Bob” Wintner, Executive Director of the Snorkel Bob Foundation, author, and owner of Snorkel Bob’s across Hawaii recently helped establish regulations to control aquarium extraction in Maui County and underwrote legal action to protect Pacific leatherbacks from swordfish hooks in the Hawaii longline fleet. He will be in the San Francisco Bay Area on Oct. 11 and 12 to launch his new book, “Some Fishes I Have Known,” which profiles reef fish in a social setting and underscores the threat posed by commercial aquarium extraction. “The aquarium trade is a severe threat to reefs and tourism—and an affront to Hawaiian culture,” said Wintner. See his blog on the Huffington Post. Download his bio here. Download book info here. Download fact sheet on Hawaiian aquarium trade here.

Teri Shore, Program Director, at Turtle Island Restoration Network, in Olema, Calif., will report on the first endangered Pacific leatherback in nearly a decade to be captured in the California gillnet fishery for swordfish. Shore will review  proposed new habitat protections for these critically endangered sea turtles, which are now foraging along the West Coast. Shore will also discuss the status of Pacific loggerheads that are undergoing uplisting from threatened to endangered, and government plans to protect false killer whales from Hawaii’s deadly longline fleet. Read more on leatherbacks, loggerheads and false killer whales. Photo of leatherback by Scott Benson, NOAA
The problem with tropical fish collection in Hawaii:  The aquarium trade takes millions of tropical fish annually from Hawaii’s coral reefs and coastal waters. With no limits on the catch or on the number of catchers and no constraints on rare, endemic or vanishing species, aquarium extraction has emptied many Hawaii reefs—legally.
With 1.5 million home aquaria worldwide, a single fish dying in each tank strains the system tremendously and 99% of those aquarium fish die within a year. Hawaii state law prohibits live coral extraction but ignores fish collection as a threat to delicate reef balance.
Sea turtles and whales gaining new protections in U.S. Pacific
Critically endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtles that swim from Indonesia past the Hawaiian Islands to feed on jellyfish along the U.S. West coast will soon find a permanent safe haven from harmful activities under a government proposal to create critical habitat along the U.S. West Coast. But they still face capture and death in the Hawaii longline fleet. Last year, the first leatherback in nearly a decade was also caught and released in the California drift gillnet fishery for swordfish.
Pacific loggerheads that are also caught by Hawaii longlines and the California drift gillnet fishery are now proposed for uplisting from threatened to endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act due to dramatic population declines of 80 percent or more. These sea turtles swim from Japan past the Hawaiian Islands to California and Baja to forage and grow. Capture in fisheries is a significant cause of their decline.
Recently the take reduction team established for false killer whales in Hawaii under the Marine Mammal Protection Act will require new protections for false killer whales that are caught and killed in the Hawaii swordfish fleet.