Pretty Fish, But Pretty Sad

Photo by Pixabay on

As a supporting member of Earthjustice, I’m fortunate enough to receive their quarterly magazine. It keeps me up to date on environmental issues around the world. The good news is that a federal court has restored Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in 44 states. During the Trump era delisting, hundreds of wolves were slaughtered in a few states with anti-wolf policies. I will admit that we have all been raised with the big, bad wolf mentality, but the truth of the matter is that wolves are necessary to maintain and ensure the environmental balance.

Photo by Egor Kamelev on

Now to the pretty fish. The fish in a saltwater aquarium are so breathtakingly beautiful, they stop you in your tracks. The whole picture seems pretty tranquil, but it was often a pretty nasty trade. Until very recently, tropical fish were often captured and pierced with hypodermic needles to prevent injury from the fish version of “the bends”. Once in a warehouse, the fish were starved for up to 10 days so they wouldn’t foul the water inside the small plastic bags they were held. Then, the fish were subjected to the treatment. According to one marine aquarium expert, fewer than 1% of wild-caught fish survive beyond a year. In captivity they die within weeks or months. In comparison, most can live for decades in the wild. Nature also depends on these fish for more than window dressing. Reef fish provide critical services by eating algae off the reefs, which allows coral to breathe and access sunlight. Unfortunately, their true value is not taken into account, because Hawai’i residents could get a permit for $50 a year to take as many reef fish out of Hawai’i’s waters with few exceptions. Between 1970 and 2018, the aquarium pet fish industry took more than 8.6 million fish from West Hawai’i waters for use in aquariums around the world. Things have finally begun to change, thanks to HEPA and Earthjustice. Hawai’i’s reefs are finally getting a chance for renewal. Don’t be taken in by a pretty face. Find out where your aquarium fish come from.

Take care,


It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

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