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Poll: Two-thirds in Hawaii oppose commercial reef fish harvests

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 1:05 p.m. HST, Jun 13, 2012

Most Hawaii residents support ending the commercial collection of reef wildlife for aquariums, according to a new poll commissioned by the Humane Society of the United States, which released the findings today.

Of 669 residents surveyed, 66 percent responded in favor of ending the trade in reef wildlife, the group said. Sixty-nine percent of residents of Hawaii island, where most of the collection occurs, support ending the practice, the poll found.

The statewide poll was conducted by Ward Research of Honolulu.

“These results support what we and other marine, environmental and native Hawaiian groups have been saying to our state lawmakers for some time: The commercial collection of Hawaii’s cherished reef wildlife is not supported by the majority of Hawaii’s residents nor does it provide any public benefit,” Inga Gibson, Hawaii state director for Humane Sciety of the U.S., said in a news release. “Furthermore, the millions of reef animals collected annually suffer and die at rates that are unacceptable.”

Commercial collectors take an estimated 1.5 million to 3.75 million wild fish and invertebrates from Hawaii’s native reefs annually, most of which go to stocking household marine aquariums, the Humane Society said. Hawaii is the world’s third-largest supplier of reef wildlife to the U.S. aquarium trade and the largest in the U.S., the group said.

“It’s encouraging to see Hawaii’s residents recognize the aquarium trade’s negative impacts to our reefs,” Robert D. Harris, director of the Hawaii Chapter of the Sierra Club, said in the Humane Society news release. “Our reef and ocean ecosystems are all connected. Depleting Hawaii’s fish populations for the aquarium trade directly impacts the viability of other species such as seals, sharks, turtles and other fish.”

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