BLNR deadlocked over revised West Hawaii Aquarium permits EIS


(BIVN) – The Hawai’i Board of Land and Natural Resources was at an impasse on Friday as it considered accepting or rejecting a Revised final environmental impact study for the issuance of commercial aquarium licenses for the West Hawai’i Regional Fisheries Management Area.

The BLNR meeting was broadcast live on Youtube.





Video feed from the BLNR meeting on June 25, 2021. Discussion begins one hour after the start of the meeting.

According to a press release from the Hawaii Department of Lands and Natural Resources released after the 7 a.m. meeting ended:

Today, the Board of Land and Natural Resources, by three to three, reached a deadlock in its decision to accept or reject the Revised Final Environmental Impact Statement (RFEIS) submitted by seven fish collectors of aquarium for the West Hawai’i regional fishery. Management area (WHRFMA). The law provides for a period of 30 days during which the council must make a decision. The clock started on June 8 when the RFEIS was released and ends on July 8, although applicants can request a 15-day extension. In the absence of action within the time limits, the RFEIS will be deemed to have been accepted.

In May 2020, the board of directors refused to accept the final environmental impact study prepared by the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council. Aquarium fishermen have revised the EFSI over the past year. The review, which incorporated many of the land council’s findings and grounds for refusal, had been open for public comment for 45 days.

Today’s board decision was limited to the acceptability of the final revised EIS and was not a decision on aquarium fishing licenses in Kona. The seven aquarium fishers who undertook the EIA are expected to apply for permits.

According to the DLNR, the revised final EIA outlines seven possible courses of action, including:

  • No action – No aquarium fish license would be issued for the entire island of Hawai’i and no commercial aquarium collection would take place in state waters.
  • CML only – no aquarium license would be issued for the entire island of Hawai’i; however, Commercial Fishing Licenses (CMLs) would be issued to fishermen in eastern Hawaii using legal gear other than fine mesh nets.
  • Prohibition of pre-aquarium sampling – DLNR would issue an unlimited number of aquarium fish permits as was done before the 9-16-17 filing to the Supreme Court, allowing the resumption of fish collection using fine mesh nets.
  • WHFRMA – Scheduled issuance of aquarium permits only – DLNR would issue an unlimited number of aquarium fish permits for the WHRFMA, but no permits for the island of Hawaii outside of the WHRFMA and an unlimited number of CMLs for fishermen elsewhere in the state.
  • Conservation of Achilles Tang – The preferred alternative in the Final Environmental Assessment (FEA) allows for the issuance of an unlimited number of aquarium fish and CML licenses on the island of Hawai’i. Collection in WHRFMA is limited to 40 white-listed species only and reduces commercial aquarium collection of Achilles Tang in WHRFMA from 10 fish per day to 5 fish per day.
  • Limited license issuance – The preferred alternative in the Final Environmental Impact Assessment (FEIS), allows the issuance of aquarium fish and LMC permits to 10 fishermen covered by FEIS, only in the WHRFMA. No commercial aquarium collections are permitted elsewhere in the state.
  • Revised white list and limited permit issuance – Applicants’ preferred alternative would allow the issuance of aquarium fish and CML permits to the seven fishermen covered by the revised final environmental impact statement, for collection in the WHRFMA. No commercial aquarium collections are permitted elsewhere in the state.

A 333-page document presented public testimony for and against the revised final EIA.


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