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Activists Take Aim At Hawaiian Fisheries

As a kid, the only redeeming factor about going to my doctor or dentist was the ginormous fish tank full of colorful fish, coral and sea life. My brother and I begged my mom for some fish of our own, and managed to raise a couple betas and other small fish well into their elderly years. But the fish we had at home weren't the exotic variety we saw when getting our teeth pulled, and some activists are concerned that those tropical sea creatures are falling victim to a dangerous business.

According to Auto World News , a conservation group is looking to end the tropical fish trade in Hawaii. The group, Sea Shepherd Conservation, is one that you may have heard of for their extreme acts to save ocean critters, like throwing glass bottles of acid at Japanese whaling ships in Antarctica. These actions are not at all okay, of course, and have lead to many labeling those within the organization as extremists. The group is aiming to stop a half-million fish from being captured in the Aloha State's waters to be sold in aquariums around the globe.

Aquarium fish trading removes about 30 million fish and other forms of oceanic wildlife from the seas each year. Countries like the Philippines and Indonesia are the ones providing most of the fish, but one of the largest fisheries that collects these creatures is off of the main Hawaiian island. The Sea Shepherds are concerned by a practice this fishery uses called cyanide fishing. The toxic chemical is pumped into the water and slows down the fish so they can be easily scooped up in a net. The group advocates that removing this many fish from the waters is damaging reefs, and using chemicals to make catching fish easier is also polluting the ecosystem.

While it seems that their cause might actually be worthy of some action, others in Hawaii are saying that it's a big waste of time. Many state officials, other conservation groups and the fishermen all agree that the fishing problem isn't that big of a deal in their state. Local environmental group Lost Fish Coalition says that there isn't much need for concern at this time. Regulations are already pretty stringent on fisheries on the islands, and native fish populations seem to be rebounding from years past where there was little regulation.

So while protecting animals is obviously a worthy cause, it seems the Hawaiian government may have this situation well under control, even though Sea Shepherds think otherwise. I do encourage anyone looking to buy tropical fish or any pet to do their research first and find reputable organizations from which to buy their new friends. And make sure you're ready to take care of your new Nemo and Dory, because tropical fish are a heck of a lot of work to keep alive.