Re: NANFA-- biological bombs detonating everywhere

Thu, 3 Aug 2000 09:13:35 -0500

>Basically here are my issues; First, in California, you are not allowed to
>keep native fishes in a home aquarium, yet the DNR (not to point fingers)
>and others routinely stock Bass and Bluegills and other fish that are not
>native to that state.

There's a reason for that: Dollars. Recreational fishing brings in millions
(billions?) of dollars in California. Entire businesses and livelihoods
rely on
it. Native fishkeeping is a tiny pursuit, and is economically
Therefore, there is no financial pressure to change the laws re: native

>Second, in that same state you can trot on down to
>the LFS and purchase any one of several dozen exotic
>species that will survive in the local pond or stream
>if let loose.

Once again, tropical fishkeeping is a huge industry. It even has a trade
association! If California (or any other state, for that matter) were to
the tropical fish hobby, there would be a ruckus.

** This is the extreme reaction I referred to. No one is saying outlaw the
hobby. The problem is that if we don't have small rules and regulations we
(society) will abuse it to the point where someone will step in and

It's the Golden Rule. He who has the gold, rules.

** A-men

By comparison, there is only a relative handful of native fish keepers in
country. We don't bring in much economically. Therefore we have no
clout. Several months back, various members from NANFA met with lawyers and
officials of one state re: their collecting laws. The officials listened.
nodded their heads. They said, basically, we're not going to change
Why? Because it's too much work to change a law when that change will have
little or no economic, social, or political impact.

> Last, in most states, you cannot buy a Bluegill in an LFS. Why?
> Bluegills have been stocked in every state in the union.
> If they are going to be invasive and cause a problem,
> it's too late to stop them now.

Do you know for a fact that threat of spreading is the reason bluegills not
in LFSs? Do you have documentation? I'd love to see it. I'm not challenging
I would just like proof that that's the real reason bluegill's (and other
Amercian fishes) aren't availabe at the LFS.

** I didn't say that was the reason. The reason their not available where I
live is that LFS's cannot sell them, it's against the law. If they want to
sell them they can apply for a bait dealers or fisheries license, but as
you state below, there probably is not enough potential income to out
weight the costs. They already have enough licensing to worry about. Again
we get into the self-defeating argument.

I suspect a different reason:

Bluegills -- as with many other natives -- don;t have the appeal of
(and therefore more desirable) fishes. Most fish keepers (who are not
to borrow J.R.'s excellent distinction), want something "exotic" and
"fancy" and
from a faraway place. A bluegill? Heck, I can catch them with my kid down
at the
pond. They're for the pan, not the aquarium. What would I want with a plain

** I disagree. Most people that I speak to would love to have natives. But,
they think it's illegal or they don't know how to go about getting them. I
would like to hear from someone that lives in a state where their local LFS
carries natives. How do they sell?

(Another reason natives aren't commonly sold -- even the most colorful ones

is temperature. Many natives, especially darters and minnows, can't stand
the 80
degree temps at which most fish keepers keep their fish, and at which most
merchants keep their stores.)

** I disagree again. I prefer natives for just this reason. I don't have to buy a heater and I don't have to continually monitor my water temperature. This makes native much easier to keep. As for the Merchants, they all sell Goldfish don't they? One of the larger LFS's in this area even has a cold room, where he keeps all of his coldwater species. Besides, many so called tropicals do not require water as warm as typically provided. I have an unheated 55 with Shiners, a Bluegill, a Jack Demsey, a Goldfish and a Plecostomus all living together quite happily. My house is typically heated or cooled to around the mid to upper 70's. At this temperature all of the fish are quite happy and healthy. Many "tropicals" will do fine at lower household temperatures.

>is it ok for the DNR to dump Bluegills in every pond in the state, but it's >a crime for my LFS to sell them?

Is it a crime? Can you show me the law? I'm sure it is a crime in many if not most states. I would love to see the actual written code prohibiting it. I bet it was written 30-100 years ago under the dictates of Fish & Game agencies, commercial fish hatcheries, and sport fish lobby groups, who saw bluegills and other gamefishes as commercial entities that needed regulation to protect economic interests. Back when these laws were written, no one had an inkling that somebody might want to keep them in an aquarium.

** Yes it's a crime. I have not read the exact law. I believe that they can sell them but there are restrictive and expensive licensing procedures that would need to be taken care of. Making the prospect pretty much not financially fesible.

Also back then, DNRs didn't care about fish. They cared about fisheries! This, however, is beginning to change. DNRs are shifting their ideologies to nongame and ecosystem management (which many anglers, fishing magazines, and sport fish lobby groups are complaining bitterly about). Gamefishes are still being stocked, but usually only into water bodies that have been significantly and irreversibly altered by man (e.g., reservoirs). Plus, I don't think bluegills are being stocked much anymore, unless it's in fishing ponds for kids. They've spread. They're established. They don't need any more help.

>Here's what I want. Sensible laws. I know....that's asking for a lot. I >want to see laws that promote the easy keeping of native fishes and or >fishes that cannot become invasive and make it difficult to keep fish that >can become invasive.

The trouble with this is, all fish can become invasive. Although the news story that prompted this thread focused on foreign invaders, a lot of the biological pollution in this country has been caused by native fishes being introduced outside their natural ranges. Look at the Colorado River basin. Yes, it's been devastated by dams. But the natives that have managed to survive in reaches unaffected by impoundments are being done in by "native" fishes -- bass, channel catfish, and red shiners.

** Agreed, but a Bass is not native in California. Just because the fish is from North America it's not native everywhere in North America. I would not want to see blanket federal regulations regarding this for just that reason. Yet, with no sensible local/state laws that's where we will wind up. I believe in a smaller Federal government. This type of issue should be handled by local and state govenments that (should) have a better handle on what works best for their area. To date though most states have antiquated or plain silly laws.

In fact, the red shiner -- one of the most beautiful native minnows, and often available in LFSs -- is one of the most dangerous fishes in America! It has been implicated in the decline of pikeminnow, woundfin, and other Colorado River basin natives. How? By spreading Asian tapeworm and outcompeting pikeminnow fry for food.

>Additionally I would like to see laws that ensure that >fish are treated humanely. If you want a Pacu, get a permit, prove you have >a 1000 gallon tank and you can care for the fish.

Unfortunately, such laws would create more government and cost millions to enforce. The easiest and most effective thing to do would be to prohibit the sale of certain large tropicals. I would not have a problem with this.

** While I don't think it would costs millions, most of the costs would be offset by revenue generated and could be handled by entities already in place. I agree that banning would probably be a better alternative, but people react very poorly to any proposal of a complete ban, even of a single species. Besides,the point of licensing is not really to be a proactive, let's arrest people tactic. It's meant to be a deterrant. In almost every city in the US you are required to license your dog and cat, yet how many actually do?

>I'm sick of idiots causing problems for responsible pet owners and the > environment. Pet ownership is a privilege and not a right.

The problems run deeper than idiot pet owners, unforunately. Essentially, it all comes down to values. What does one value more? Short-term economic gain and comfort? Or long-term ecosystem integrity? As long as it's man calling the shots, it will always be the former.

** Another A-men


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