Christopher Scharpf wrote:
> NOTE: The following represents my personal opinions, and not necessarily
> those of NANFA.
> To me, the issue is simple:
> As long as laws allow for the collection of nongame fishes as bait, and the
> removal of selected gamefishes for food or trophy, then hobbyists should be
> allowed to collect those same fishes for private aquaria.
> This is reflected in NANFA's Mission Statement, which says that "the legal
> and environmentally responsible collection of native fishes for private
> aquaria [is] a valid use of a natural resource."
> As long as no laws are being broken -- and laws vary widely between states
> -- there's little difference between an angler putting a sculpin on a hook
> and a hobbyist putting a sculpin in a tank as far as the ecosystem is
> concerned. (The sculpin may have a slightly different opinion on the
> matter!) To use Shireen's phrase, both are being collected for
> What's important for NANFA -- and for the fish -- is that native fish
> collecting (or sampling, or whatever you want to call it) -- be more than
> entertainment. There should be an educational, scientific, and/or
> conservation component to collecting fishes and their subsequent captive
> husbandry. Again, this is reflected in NANFA's Mission Statement:
> * "Captive husbandry of fishes acquaints people with organisms they might
> otherwise never see alive or know existed, and affords people an opportunity
> to witness and appreciate their behaviors (feeding, breeding, parental care,
> etc.). Such acquaintance is a vital step in fostering environmental
> awareness and promoting a conservation ethic."
> * "Studying and documenting the captive husbandry of North American fishes
> can provide information about a speciesą life history that is otherwise
> lacking in the scientific record, or difficult to study under natural
> * "The captive propagation of native fishes can play a key role in
> conservation efforts by ... providing crucial life history information
> about a species before it becomes endangered; by providing aquarium-reared
> specimens for restocking efforts; by serving as a 'last-ditch' safeguard
> against the extinction of a species in the wild; and by maintaining species
> already extinct in the wild."
> Nowhere in NANFA's Mission Statement does it state that the collection of
> native fishes is a hobby, nor does it describe itself as a hobbyist
> organization (although hobbyists with no higher aspirations than keeping
> souvenir specimens in aquaria likely make up a large portion of the
> membership). NANFA (from my perspective) is not trying to attract more
> people to the "hobby." In other words, the organization is not trying to
> convert tropical fish hobbyists into native fish hobbyists (as if implying
> that one type of fish is better than another). If anything, NANFA is trying
> to turn hobbyists into more scientifically literate and environmentally
> conscious stewards of native fishes and their habitats. (That's my editorial
> policy with American Currents, which I seek to fulfill with a balanced mix
> of articles on biology and conservation as well as aquarium care. This mix
> can also be seen in NANFA conventions, which feature speakers and
> presentations across a variety of scientific, conservation, and husbandry
> topics all related to native fishes.)
> None of this denies or demeans the fact that most -- if not all -- of us
> were born with that "aquarium gene" which finds enjoyment in the keeping of
> critters in fish tanks. And none of us have outgrown that childhood
> fascination with turning over rocks and seeing what swims or slithers
> underneath. When I was a kid I collected fishes because of some inexplicable
> desire to simply possess them. In my young mind, a fish in a creek existed
> only for me to catch it, keep it, and pickle it when it died. (Considering
> my primitive husbandry skills back then, I pickled many a fish!) But
> gradually -- and due in no small part to my association with NANFA -- my
> approach to fish collecting and keeping has changed (or matured, as I like
> to think). I collect fewer fishes (none from the Ohio convention and none at
> all this year) and go on fewer collecting (sampling) trips. Yet my interest
> in native fishes -- in their natural history and conservation -- is growing
> in leaps and bounds. If NANFA can teach but one lesson, maybe it can be the
> lesson I taught myself:
> A fish in the wild is more interesting, more aesthetically pleasing, and
> more desirable (ecologically speaking) than a fish in captivity.
> For me, the aquarium opened up a whole new world outside of the aquarium
> (which, come to think, aquariums are *supposed* to do). And while I will
> always be interested in the science and technology of aquariums -- and in
> awe of aquarists like Ray Katula and J.R. Shute and Bob Muller who possess
> the skill and saintly patience to breed fish and raise them -- it's the
> natural world of fishes to which I am now most compellingly drawn.
> I hate to think what I'd be doing today if I had not been allowed to collect
> (and, sad to say, cause the untimely death of) so many minnies when I was a
> kid. I'd probably be a developer, or a dam-builder, or a crooked politician.
> Thanks to the simple act of going out into nature and bringing a slice of
> that nature home, I am now in total reverence of the biodiversity that both
> sustains and delights us. And if someone seeing my aquarium can feel some of
> the same, then all the better.
> I will never begrudge anyone for catching a fish to place in an aquarium. I
> just hope it leads to something more profound than having a collectible.
> Chris Scharpf
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> / reflect the beliefs or goals of the North American Native Fishes
> / Association"
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/"Unless stated otherwise, comments made on this list do not necessarily
/ reflect the beliefs or goals of the North American Native Fishes
/ This is the discussion list of the North American Native Fishes Association
/ nanfa_at_aquaria.net. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or get help, send the word
/ subscribe, unsubscribe, or help in the body (not subject) of an email to
/ nanfa-request_at_aquaria.net. For a digest version, send the command to
/ nanfa-digest-request_at_aquaria.net instead.
/ For more information about NANFA, visit our web page, http://www.nanfa.org