Welcome to the 28th episode of the Animal Law Podcast! Mariann is joined by Laura Friend to discuss a recently decided case in which The Humane Society of the United States, along with the Conservation Council of Hawaii, the Center for Biological Diversity, and multiple individual plaintiffs, sued the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources for failing to comply with the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act (HEPA) in issuing permits for the industrial collection of aquarium fish from Hawaii’s delicate coral reefs. Hawaii is the largest domestic source of species intended for the aquarium trade, and the Department was issuing permit upon permit for companies to remove unlimited numbers of rare and exotic fish without any consideration of the devastating impacts these activities have on the environment. After losing at the trial court level, and losing in the intermediate court of appeals, Plaintiffs finally obtained victory earlier this month when the Supreme Court of Hawaii ruled that these devastating practices could no longer continue without first undergoing environmental review. This decision explained that the aquarium industry impacts the coral reef ecosystem, and therefore is covered under HEPA. The decision also creates strong legal precedent for the broad reach of that Act to apply in many other circumstances that impact animal welfare and conservation.
Laura Friend is an attorney for The Humane Society of the United States, where she began working after graduating from Georgetown University Law Center in 2014. She is part of the Wildlife and Animal Research team of HSUS’ Animal Protection Litigation department. Laura’s docket covers a wide variety of issues, from fighting to increase protections for marine mammals and captive exotic animals, to combatting international wildlife trafficking and inhumane hunting practices across the country. She accomplishes these goals through a variety of means, including drafting administrative petitions and comments on proposed agency actions, and filing lawsuits and amicus briefs to advance the organization’s cause.
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