Fisherman charged in underwater fight off Kona - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Fisherman charged in underwater fight off Kona

KONA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - Charges have now been filed in the scuba scuffle caught on tape in the waters off Kona.  Hawaii County Prosecutors have charged fisherman Jay Lovell with terroristic threatening in the second degree.  He is accused of ripping the regulator out of Rene Umberger's mouth eliminating her ability to breathe.

Lovell was collecting reef fish last May for the aquarium trade.  Umberger is an environmentalist against the practice and says the incident isn't stopping her from documenting aquarium fishermen.

"Violence is never appropriate but also people who are out there trying to expose and document the destructive practices on the reefs aren't going to be intimidated by this kind of activity. Stooping to violence only hurts the cause it doesn't help their cause," said Rene Umberger, Reef Consultant and Diver.

The incident stirred debate around the country.  Umberger says it helped people learn that aquarium fish do not always come from farms and has bolstered support against the trade.

Meanwhile Jay Lovell's brother says he will fight the charges.

"Jay is actually looking forward to the court so all the facts of the case can actually come out. The fact that these people are targeting the industry, they've been threatening for over a year," said Jim Lovell, Jay's brother, who is also a reef fisherman. "They provoked us, they caused it, it's on their table. It's on their agenda and this is what they want to do."

Jay Lovell's court date on the misdemeanor charge is September 2nd.

Copyright 2014 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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