Aquatic Experience 2017 Proves the Industry is Serious About Staying Alive
As vice president of government affairs for the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) and PIJAC's staff lead on aquatic issues, I have watched with concern and frustration as activists have worked overtime to target hobbyists, professionals, scientists and others in the aquatics trade. They have made ending aquariums a priority across the country and even internationally.
Regretfully, they succeeded in Hawaii, when two court rulings effectively shut down much of the ornamental fishing in the state. PIJAC is working with fishers to challenge the rulings, and we are holding discussions with state officials on the industry's role regarding a planned environmental impact survey.
Hawaii is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg; PIJAC has fought for aquatic hobbyists and professionals in Florida, Michigan, Maine and elsewhere. The number of proposed measures by activists has increased in recent years, highlighting their serious, yet misleading and possibly dangerous, ideology against the safe and healthy keeping of aquatic pets.
The aquatics industry is not taking this attack lying down. PIJAC is grateful that, thanks to Segrest Farms and Jay Wilson, we had the opportunity to conduct live interviews at Aquatic Experience. These interviews have reached thousands of advocates of the aquarium trade. Our blog posts with Pet Product News and other industry-sponsored media efforts are likewise critical to continuing to build a critical mass of pet care professionals who stand against extreme anti-aquarium activists.
In the end, the hundreds of thousands of dollars necessary for this fight in Hawaii alone is more than PIJAC and the state's fishers can afford. We are therefore grateful for approximately $50,000 donated after our recent town hall-style Legislative Update at Aquatic Experience 2017. Aquatic Experience's organizers at the World Pet Association likewise raised donations for PIJAC through a raffle that benefited several groups, and Sun Pet sold T-shirts and pictures to benefit PIJAC. Unfortunately, most of these donations have come from long-time supporters, which means much of the trade and the hobby continuing to sit on its hands. Will it take the disappearance of the yellow tang from the market to make folks realize that they have a stake in this fight? Or will everyone take action together?
Robert Likins is the director of government affairs for the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC). PIJAC is the legislative and advocacy voice for the responsible pet trade.