Help lift the Hawaii Ban to get wild yellow tangs back


The Fishermen of Hawaii are asking for reef aquarium owners to send an email to a Hawaiian court opposing the current ban on the aquarium fishery.

Banned Hawaii fish

In January 2021 the capture of saltwater fish for the aquarium industry was banned in Hawaii, meaning the supply of popular species like yellow tangs, flame angels, Achilles tangs, and Potter's angels from there halted, and we still haven’t seen wild Hawaiian yellow tangs for sale to this day.

The Hawaiian aquarium fishery faced pressure from environmental groups long before 2021.

But Hawaii isn’t a third-world country, it is America’s 50th State, and the fishery is well-managed, well-established, and importantly, has decades of data on the fish numbers within it. According to data presented, fish like Yellow tangs haven’t been overfished; in fact, numbers actually increased while they were being fished, according to an environmental impact statement. And that’s why it's being opposed. 

But for every claim, there is a counterclaim and the last four years have seen the Pet Advocacy Network, formerly known as the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), ask hobbyists to email the government in 2021 and get the request for harvest approved in 2022, only to see renewed requests for a ban in 2023 before the Senate Bill 505 was defeated in the same year. It looked like the ban had a chance of being lifted.

This all came at a price, however, with potential catching permits going down to just seven and the number of Hawaiian fish species available to fish dropping from forty to just eight. Yellow tangs, Kole tangs, and Potter’s angels are on it. More exotic species like bandit angels, crosshatch triggers, and Jordan’s fairy wrasse are not. Achilles tangs and flame angels can be sourced from elsewhere in the Pacific, Potters angels and yellow tangs and have become available tank-bred via Biota, but they are more expensive than their wild counterparts, even at much smaller sizes.

One year on, the Division of Aquatic Resources has to present the status of the fishery to the Land Board, and once again it is a scientific, 92-page data-filled document. After the meeting on April the 12th a second meeting will follow it 6-8 weeks later. 

Give your support

If you feel that the Hawaiian aquarium fishery is sustainable and properly managed, and you would like to see Hawaiian saltwater fish back in your marine store The fishermen of Hawaii are asking for your help. They need you to send an email structured like the one below to the Land Board:

Email address: [email protected]
Subject: Agenda Item F2 and F3
Content: “I oppose banning the aquarium fishery, and I support managing resources by science as provided by DAR”
Your name: 

Who is for and against the Hawaii Ban?

The people for the ban are an environmental group called Earth Justice. The people trying to get the ban lifted are the Pet Advocacy Network, which includes financial backing from several marine fish wholesalers.

If you want to find out more about the ornamental fish supply chain OATA produced an excellent report called Fishing For Facts.