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When handled humanely, aquariums can offer a glimpse into teeming marine ecosystems we may never otherwise be able to see.
Unfortunately humane handling of sea animals for aquariums isn't always the case, as in Hawaii, where ocean wildlife collectors ignore the well being of coral reef fish and remove them from their natural habitats.
The fish are taken swiftly out of the water without regard to pressure changes or the stress it might cause. And poor water quality results when large amounts of fish are put into cramped holding tanks. Many of the fish die before they reach the destination.
Hawaii doesn't have any laws to protect wildlife that thrives on coral — even if thousands of fish die in a collector's care, there's nothing anyone can do.
Urge Hawaii to draft strong legislation against the collection of reef wildlife and the decimation of the coral reef ecosystem.
Dear Governor Neil Abercrombie:
The state of Hawaii needs to strengthen its ocean wildlife protection laws.
As it stands, there are no regulations in place that monitor how many fish are being extracted from their environments and how these animals are being treated.
It means that collectors can use any method they wish to remove as many animals as they want from coral reef ecosystems. They often capture hundreds of fish in a net from deep below the surface and bring them up without regard to the pressure change. As a result the fish can suffer the bends, just as a human would without proper equalization techniques. The fish can also die of shock to their systems as well as contaminated water as a result of cramped tanks.
These fish are also vital components of their natural habitats, so the whole reef suffers if its living organisms are removed in large quantities.
Please address this problem by creating legislation that would regulate the collection of reef animals as well as require proper, humane methods in caring for these creatures.
The future of Hawaii's precious coral reefs depends on it.