“Tropical Truth”: A Fresh, Science-Based Look at Hawaii’s Aquarium Fishery

12 May, 2022

“We’ve collected data for over 17 years from over 6,700 surveys and have found that aquarium fish populations are generally stable and increasing in West Hawai’i where, again, most of these aquarium fish are collected. The populations of Yellow Tang and Kole – which are the two most heavily collected species – are not declining. In recent years, they’ve both been increasing both in the protected areas and in open areas. […] If you define sustainable as the numbers remaining the same and/or increasing, then they’re sustainable.”
—Dr. Bruce Carlson,
former Waikiki Aquarium Director and Chief Science Officer at the Georgia Aquarium 

From CORAL Contributor Art Parola comes this news:

“A new website has been released to promote the efforts of the Hawaiian fishermen. There are some significant deadlines approaching in Hawaii, and it would be good to make people aware of this new resource.”

Randall Kosaki, Ph.D., NOAA scientist

The content has videos, graphics, and references that lend scientific support to the arguments that the aquarium fishery in the Hawaiian Islands has a track record of sustainability and not causing the loss marine biodiversity.

Among the biologists and fishery observers quoted are Dr. William Walsh (state fisheries biologist); Dr. Bruce Carlson (former director, Waikiki Aquarium); Ron Tubbs, Tony & Sally Nahacky (AQ collectors); Dr. Richard Pyle (Bishop Museum); Dr. Randall Kosaki (NOAA), and others.


“A picture of a fish is worth 1,000 words, but in many ways a live fish in an aquarium is worth 1,000 pictures. It really does compel people to care not just about that fish in the aquarium but the habitat that it came from.”
—Randall Kosaki, Ph.D., NOAA scientist



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About the author

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Reef To Rainforest

Reef to Rainforest Media, LLC is the publisher of award-winning magazines and books in the fields of aquarium keeping, aquatics, and marine science. It is the English-language publisher of CORAL Magazine and is based in Shelburne, Vermont, USA.

1 Comment

  1. May 13, 2022

    The problem is, the decision to outlaw collection of aquarium fish in Hawaii was never based on science. Like many things in this country the decision was based strictly on emotion and a whole lot of disinformation. Snorkel Bob has been on a crusade in Hawaii for many years. He finally found people who were gullible enough to listen to him. I doubt that Hawaii will ever be opened up for collection again. The best we can hope for is that they allow some collection of brood stock so that endemic fish can be captive bred.

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