We're sad to announce that House Bill 808 was amended during its recent hearing to exclude sharks completely, leaving just rays. This was due to the relentless opposition from multiple biologists at Hawaii Institute Of Marine Biology and Shark Tagger Hawaii, who were allegedly unwilling to fill out a permit that would exempt their research. It isn't the first time some of these individuals have tried to block bills that would further protect sharks in Hawaii. In 2010, Kim Holland also opposed the bill to prohibit the possession of shark fins in Hawaii before it was, thankfully, signed into law anyway. He also opposed a law in 2009 to better protect manta rays in Hawaii.
The handful of biologists, most notably Holland, Melanie Hutchinson, and Carl Meyer, claimed the bill would hinder their research efforts despite being repeatedly informed that research purposes would be exempt. Supporters of the bill have speculated that the biologists may have been concerned their controversial tagging methods would be looked at more closely if the bill passed. This is due to the backlash their tagging has received over the years, some resulting in accidental deaths, and a recent video of a pregnant tiger shark giving birth while being tagged, which other biologists criticized as a possible premature abortion from the stress of the capture. Thankfully, the shark pups were apparently already close to term and appeared to swim off strongly. Hopefully, the other pregnant tiger sharks they're considering targeting as tagging patients fair as well.
Whatever their reasoning is, we hope those who fund the work of these biologists are made aware of their efforts to oppose legislation to better protect sharks.
We encourage you to contact the opposing biologists and encourage them to put the safety of sharks before their permit paperwork.
Kim Holland: firstname.lastname@example.org
Carl Meyer: email@example.com
Melanie Hutchinson: firstname.lastname@example.org