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Reef Society Under Seige

A Critical Look at Unlimited Extraction by the Aquarium Trade on Hawaii's Coral Reefs
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Reef Society Under Seige

A saltwater fish tank may be a terminal expense for the home hobbyist, the fish inside and the home reef raided to catch those fish. The aquarium trade reports $2 million in revenue but is believed to poach ten times that amount—that’s still chump change on a multi-billion-dollar trade that is emptying Hawaii reefs. Hawaii State law forbids removal of coral but allows extraction of aquarium fish with no limit on the catch, no limit on the number of catchers and no constraints on rare or endemic species. It’s a free-for-all that spells doom for Hawaii reefs.

Fewer fish mean less reef balance and maintenance. Beyond that, Hawaii’s reef-based tourism generates 400 times the taxable revenue. Aquarium collecting is killing tourism and is an affront to Hawaiian culture. Maui County just passed stringent requirements on permitting and accountability—and the aquarium trade is digging in.

Some Fishes I Have Known is 300 family portraits on 200 pages in 8½ x 11 format, presenting some "cold fuzzies" in their home society. Photographed by Snorkel Bob, Himself, (aka Robert Wintner) this unique approach to reef life and beauty offers insight to a few personalities who are anything but cold fish. These critters see, feel, and know what and who is before them. Some Fishes I Have Known is underscored with a narrative pointing out what has too long been underwater and under the radar, that what a greedy aquarium trade calls “sustainable” is in fact sustaining only a few bank accounts.

Robert Wintner is on tour in October to promote Some Fishes I Have Known and to bring the sordid truth of the aquarium trade to the surface.

What are the impacts of removing millions fish annually from reefs? What are the consequences and the cases developing on both sides? Is a ban coming to Hawaii?