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KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) — Hawaii officials instituted a ban on commercial aquarium fishing in West Hawaii waters.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources announced the ban on Friday pending the results of an environmental review, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported .

The department’s action followed a Hawaii Supreme Court ruling in September that barred the issuance of permits for aquarium fishing until the review is complete.

“Although the state permit referenced in the rules is not defined, the intent of the Supreme Court decision is clear,” said Bruce Anderson, DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources administrator. “Given the intent of the court ruling, any taking of aquarium fish or other animals for the commercial pet trade in West Hawaii is prohibited until the environmental review has been completed.”

The state worked to regulate the industry 20 years ago, establishing marine protected areas covering roughly 35 percent of Hawaii Island’s leeward reef areas.

A bill introduced by Democrat state Sen. Karl Rhoads of Oahu, which passed the Legislature in 2017, aimed to eliminate aquarium fishing in Hawaii. But Gov. David Ige vetoed the bill, saying science conducted throughout nearly two decades didn’t justify that the industry operates at an unsustainable rate.

Jay Lovell, an aquarium fisherman for the past 35 years, said he is outraged by the ban.

“We’re getting singled out,” Lovell said. “I have a mortgage to pay. I have bills I have to pay. I just bought a car. I bought all this because I had a job because the state gave me a license to fish. Now they’re taking it away. I’m out of a job. . Nobody cares.”


Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald,