State officials said Hawaii-based marine and animal protection organizations have joined forces with its Department of Land and Natural Resources to make it easier for people to report illegal aquarium collecting activity across the state.
A new hotline has been set up for members of the public to report any illegal collection of fish across the Hawaiian isles. Successful prosecution of a poaching case can result in a reward of up to $5000 for those who provided the tip.
“We are asking for the public’s kokua (help) in reporting any suspected illegal reef wildlife collection,” said Mike Nakachi of Kona-based Moana ‘Ohana. “We continue to receive reports from concerned residents alleging illegal capture of our fragile and sacred reef animals. All aquarium fish collection off West Hawaii is against the law, regardless of gear type or net size.”
Due to a Hawaii Supreme Court ruling in September of last year, all permits to take aquatic life for aquariums using fine-meshed nets are illegal and invalid until an environmental review is completed.
DLNR is being joined by Moana ‘Ohana, as well as other groups such as For the Fishes, The Center for Biological Diversity and West Hawaii Humane Society in the enforcement of the aquarium collection laws.
The new hotline for reporting illegal aquarium collecting activities is 808-NO-POACH (call or text photos or videos of alleged illegal activity). DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement also takes tips through its state-wide telephone hotline at 808-643-DLNR or its free, online app, DLNRTip.