Tropical fish population on Maui is being depleted

I am an avid snorkeler. When I first came to Hawaii in 1982, you could approach a reef from any of Maui’s shores and see bright yellow fish moving about. Yellow tangs, of course, and, along with a myriad other beautiful and often unique reef fish, they graced almost every good snorkeling spot on Maui. Not anymore. Many reef fish species seem depleted and are seen in much lower numbers or almost not at all.

The last six times I have been snorkeling, I have not seen a single yellow tang. This would have been unheard of a few years ago. Always now, numbers and varieties of fish I see seem greatly diminished. It seems a no-brainer to me – we allow too much collecting of our precious fish for aquariums throughout the world at the expense of Maui’s reef ecosystems.

I know it is more complicated, but the first step is simple – limit the commercial harvesting of our reef fish.

We need to do this now. It is so obvious from a conservation standpoint. More study seems just another excuse to take no action.

Why won’t our policymakers stand up, take action on this and protect our precious and valuable aquatic diversity? Those of you with a say on this, please take action now. There are many easily applied options. Let’s start to bring back our variety and stock of reef fish.

Rick Kempnich