A draft environmental impact statement examining the West Hawai’i RegionalFishery Management Area, or WHRFMA, was posted to the Hawaiʻi Office ofEnvironmental Quality Control website on November 23.

The draft EIS proposes issuing 14 aquarium permits for the WHRFMA. “The needfor the Applicant’s action is to continue commercial aquarium fishers’livelihoods in compliance with all applicable laws, rules, and regulationspertaining to the industry,” the EIS says.

According to the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, which produced the draftEIS with the help of Stantec Consulting Services, “the purpose of theApplicant’s action is to ensure that commercial aquarium fish collectionallows for the lawful, responsible, and sustainable commercial collection ofvarious fish species from nearshore habitats of the WHRFMA.”

The preferred alternative in the draft EIS includes implementation of areduced bag limit for Achilles Tang of 5 per day. Also, no aquarium permitswould be issued for other areas of the state, including East Hawai’i.

The Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources has not issued newaquarium permits since September 2017, and the Supreme Court ruled in October2017 that existing permits for use of fine mesh nets to catch aquatic life foraquarium purposes are illegal and invalid.

The 490 page draft EIS, which includes a voluminous cultural impactassessment, concludes that the Preferred Alternative “does not involve anirrevocable commitment or loss or destruction of any natural or culturalresource,” the EIS summarizes.

The full document can be downloaded from the Office of Environmental QualityControl.

Statutory 45-day public review and comment period has started. Comments aredue by January 7, 2020, officials say.

Image: from Draft EIS: Example of a yellow FRA sign (located at MakahikiPoint, Pāpā Bay, South Kona) indicating that aquarium collection isprohibited, view to the north.

Source: Hawai’i Island News

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