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Delay for Hawaii’s Aquatic Life Bill

Posted: August 24, 2011, 1:30 p.m., EDT

Following consultations—allied to serious doubts raised in several quarters—the text of Hawaii’s Aquatic Life Bill was modified to “prohibit the collection and sale for aquarium purposes of aquatic species unless the aquatic species appears on an aquarium collecting ‘white list.’”

This revised bill (SB 1098) was originally due to come into force on June 1, 2011, although there seemed no way in which its still-outstanding flaws, added to the establishment of the “white list,” would be sorted out by this date. Not surprisingly, June came and went without the target being met.

As a result, the bill has been held over to the 2012 session of the Hawaiian legislature, which will convene on Jan. 19, 2012. If I read the dates correctly, the first bills will not be discussed until March 10, and there is no indication whether SB 1098 will be among those slated for early discussion.

Even assuming it is among the early bills on the agenda, it will take some time to iron out all the remaining flaws and compile a workable white list. We are not therefore likely to see any definite ruling on the matter, followed by full implementation, before next summer.

This does not, however, mean that there’s any justification for complacency. Unless the bill is thrown out or is substantially modified, there will undoubtedly be implications for those who collect and export Hawaiian aquatic life, and for those who import such life.

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