We moved to Moloka'i in 1989 from Washington State to start a saltwater fish collection business, which we proudly named Hawaiian Quality Fish. Even though we didn't know a yellow tang from a guppy when we arrived, we "jumped right in" and began our endeavor. From 1989 to November of 1999 we harvested and collected fish from the same "farm" area on about 4 miles of reef, and the fish are still as plentiful today as they were when we started. This was accomplished by collecting only what we needed, when we needed it. We collected, cared for, and shipped our fish responsibly, as we feel all collectors should do!
The State of Hawaii does have regulations in regards to the size on some of the fish you can collect, in relation to them being food fishes, the size (eye) of nets you can use, and a NO DRUGS method of collecting, but there are no other particular regulations when it comes to collecting ornamental tropicals. Because of this factor and to allow our farm area to work as a sustainable harvest farm for future years, we chose to regulate how many and what types of fish our customers received. This was especially applied when it came to a request for a fish that we could find, but not in abundance. Other important practices that we followed were not shipping species that we felt did not do well in captivity, were not suitable for someone at a beginners level, or played a valuable role on the reef, such as the Hawaiian Cleaner Wrasse.
In Fishing By Sustainable Harvest Methods we discuss exactly how we worked our "farm" for 10 years, in the hope that other collectors would, and will, take this method into consideration. By doing so it can help to preserve our natural ocean resources and still allow a person to make a living at the same time, without destroying the harmony of our oceans eco-system. Be sure to read our series on how to collect your own fish, which can be done responsibily using our methods.
Between us we have over 10,000 descents in saltwater. Diving from Puget Sound, to Hawaii, to Palmyra and back, we learned the particular characteristics of each fish we collected and passed that information on to our customers. This added service, along with our unsurpassed record of low (less than 1/2 %) losses in transit, and the top quality of our fish, it put us in the position to have to turn down new customers almost on a weekly basis. We worked hard at what we did and took a lot of pride in shipping only perfect, healthy fish.
We respect the ocean and it's inhabitants. When we collected them we made sure they were treated properly and expect others to do the same. Saltwater aquarium ownership can be enjoyable, and we sincerely hope to pass our knowledge of caring for our valuable ocean friends and your aquarium on to you.
~ Stan and Debbie Hauter