This article examines a conflict involving the protection of coral reefs from aquarium fish collecting along the coast of western Hawai‘i. The involved parties included aquarium fish collectors, dive tour operators, Hawai‘i Division of Aquatic Resources, reef protection advocates, and administrative/legislature state actors. An attempt was made to resolve the controversy through a combination of legislative action and environmental dispute resolution. The responsible state agency approached the issue based on the implicit assumption that it was a conflict that could be resolved through negotiated agreements based on the best available scientific information. Our analysis suggests that scientific perspectives framed and dominated the resolution process to the perceived detriment or (at least underrepresentation) of some identity-based community perspectives. The resulting agreement established reef protection in the form of marine protected areas, but last-minute scuttling of previously negotiated enforcement procedures occurred, revealing that not all stakeholders were truly supportive of all elements of the agreement. This last-minute action resulted in fewer effective enforcement provisions and, at least from some perspectives, marginalization of the broader community's role as resource managers.
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