Black carp could become the next 'big Asian minnow' in North American
waters. Read on for details and what you can do.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-unio_at_listproc.umbc.edu [ ]
> On Behalf Of Kevin S. Cummings
> Sent: Wednesday, June 07, 2000 2:02 PM
> To: UNIO_at_lists.umbc.edu
> Subject: LONG & EXTREMELY IMPORTANT
> Please excuse the cross posting
> ACTION NEEDED IMMEDIATELY
> (3 parts: Introduction, Federal Register Notice, Response Letter)
> Introduction to the Problem
> <?/fontfamily><?fontfamily><?param Geneva>This message is a call for
> action to try and prevent the spread of the exotic black carp throughout
> North America. The black carp is a large (up to a meter in length)
> mollusc-eating fish that has been imported from Asia into North America
> (Arkansas and other states) by the aquaculture industry. Black carp were
> first introduced into the U.S. in the early 1970s as a "contaminant" in
> imported grass carp stocks. The second introduction came in the 1980s when
> the species was imported as a food fish, and as a biological control agent
> to combat the spread of yellow grubs in aquaculture ponds. The Freshwater
> Mollusk Conservation Society, American Fisheries Society (the nations
> largest society of fisheries professionals) and other organizations have
> called for the elimination of all black carp stocks in North America.
> Four other Asian carp species (common, grass, bighead, and silver carps)
> have been introduced into U.S. waters, and all have been able to establish
> themselves in the wild, producing large populations. The large numbers of
> Asian carp that presently occur in certain parts of the Mississippi River
> Basin undoubtedly are producing significant negative impacts on native
> fish species. However, the black carp poses an even greater threat to
> native invertebrate populations because it feeds almost exclusively on
> mollusks. As most of you are aware, the southeastern United States has the
> most diverse freshwater molluscan fauna in the hemisphere and perhaps the
> world. Freshwater mollusks are the most endangered group of animals in
> North America, with over 70% of our native mollusk species in need of
> Last fall the Mississippi Interstate Cooperative Resource Association
> (MICRA) learned that the state of Mississippi had decided to allow catfish
> fish farmers to import reproductively viable (diploid) black carp from
> Arkansas to control snail populations in their catfish ponds. This raised
> a significant "red flag" with other Mississippi River Basin states. First,
> because of the great potential of black carp to proliferate in the wild
> and also because other methods of grub control utilizing native fish
> species are available and have been used successfully in other states.
> The Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society, MICRA, and others sent
> letters to the governors of Mississippi and Arkansas asking that all black
> carp presently stocked in Mississippi be recovered and destroyed, or kept
> in closely controlled, laboratory-like environments which could guarantee
> that escape to the wild would be prevented. Copies of three MICRA letters
> on this subject can be downloaded in .pdf format from MICRA at
> http://wwwaux.cerc.cr.usgs.gov/MICRA (simply scroll down the table of
> contents). MICRA also expressed interest in assisting Mississippi, or any
> other state or federal agency, by providing resources and expertise, and
> experience using native species or other measures as alternatives to black
> carp in treating the grub problem.
> On 24 February 2000 MICRA petitioned Jamie Rappaport Clark, Director of
> the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), to list the black carp
> (Mylopharyngodon piceus) as an "injurious species of wildlife" coming
> under jurisdiction of the Federal Lacey Act. The Lacey Act prohibits the
> import and/or possession of any species listed as "injurious" without a
> Federal permit. MICRA expressed concerns that: (1) diploid (fertile) black
> carp are being used in the state of Mississippi as a control agent for
> snail populations in fish culture ponds, (2) the potential for the escape
> of these black carp to the wild is high, and (3) the nation's mollusk
> populations (many of which are threatened or endangered) could be
> devastated should the black carp escape from captivity and establish wild
> Of even greater concern is the fact that 90% (191 species) of the native
> mussel species designated as endangered, threatened, or of special concern
> are found in the Southeastern states - not far from where the black carp
> are being stocked. Forty-eight percent or 102 of these species are endemic
> to that region of the U.S., and the black carp have the potential of
> driving some of these species to extinction. Black carp also could have a
> profound negative effect on native fingernail clam populations which serve
> as a primary food source for many migratory waterfowl species in the
> Mississippi flyway and elsewhere.
> There is ample biological evidence to justify preventing black carp from
> being used anywhere in the U.S. for any purpose. However, the final
> decision on this matter, and therefore on the ultimate fate of our native
> mollusk fauna will be made by the USFWS. Those who support the use of
> black carp are busy lobbying their Congressmen and USFWS to protect their
> perceived right to continue that use. Those who oppose the use of black
> carp will have to do the same. I am urging you to contact the individuals
> listed below the Fed Register Notice and ask them to exercise their power
> to list the black carp as an "injurious species of wildlife" under the
> jurisdiction of the Federal Lacey Act.
> For Additional information see:
> Below is a copy of the notice in the Federal Register and below that is a
> letter that you can send (or draft your own) to voice your concern on this
> issue. (SEE BELOW). All comments must be received by 1 August 2000.
> [Federal Register: June 2, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 107)]
> [Proposed Rules] [Page 35314-35315]
> >From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
> DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
> Fish and Wildlife Service
> 50 CFR Part 16
> Injurious Wildlife; Review of Information Concerning Black Carp
> (Mylopharyngodon piceus)
> AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
> ACTION: Advance notice of proposed rulemaking.
> SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reviewing available
> economic and biological information on the black carp (Mylopharyngodon
> piceus) for possible addition to the list of injurious wildlife under the
> Lacey Act. The importation and introduction of M. piceus into the natural
> ecosystem of the United States may pose a threat to native mollusk and
> fish populations. Listing M. piceus as injurious would prohibit its
> importation into, or transportation between, the continental United
> States, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico,
> or any territory or possession of the United States, with limited
> exceptions. This notice seeks comments from the public to aid in
> determining if a proposed rule is warranted.
> DATES: Comments must be submitted on or before August 1, 2000.
> ADDRESSES: Comments may be mailed or sent by fax to the Chief, Division of
> Fish and Wildlife Management Assistance, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
> 1849 C Street, NW, Mail Stop 840 ARLSQ, Washington, DC 20240, of FAX (703)
> 358-2044. e-mail susan_mangin_at_fws.gov
> FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan Mangin, Division of Fish and
> Wildlife Management Assistance at (703) 358-1718.
> SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In a February 24, 2000, letter to the Director
> of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Mississippi Interstate
> Cooperative Resource Association (MICRA) expressed concern that
> Mylopharyngodon piceus posed a threat to native fish and mollusk
> populations. MICRA requested that the Director take the necessary steps to
> list M. piceus as an injurious species of wildlife.
> M. piceus is a freshwater fish that inhabits lakes and lower reaches of
> rivers. It is native to most major Pacific drainages of eastern Asia and
> highly esteemed as a food fish in China. M. piceus was introduced into the
> United States in the early 1970s as a ``contaminant'' in imported grass
> carp stocks. A second introduction occurred in the 1980s for yellow grub
> control and as a food fish. M. piceus larvae and fingerlings feed on
> zooplankton, while larger M. piceus feed on benthic organisms with shells.
> Because the species commonly feeds on mollusks, M. piceus is considered an
> effective method of biological control of snails. M. piceus spawn in
> rivers, and their eggs are pelagic or semipelagic and drift downstream.
> They are annual spawners, with spawning triggered by water temperature,
> rising water levels, and availability of food. Research has indicated that
> pond-cultured females can produce an average of 65,000 eggs per kg (29,000
> per lb.) of body weight.
> The Lacey Act (18 U.S.C. 42) and implementing regulation in 50 CFR part 16
> restrict the importation into or the transportation of live wildlife or
> eggs thereof between the continental United States, the District of
> Columbia, Hawaii, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any territory or
> possession of the United States of any nonindigenous
> species of wildlife determined to be injurious or potentially injurious to
> certain interests, including those of agriculture, horticulture, forestry,
> the health and welfare of human beings, and the welfare and survival of
> wildlife and wildlife resources in the United States. However, injurious
> wildlife may be imported by permit for zoological, educational, medical,
> or scientific purposes in accordance with permit regulations at 50 CFR
> 16.22, or by Federal agencies without a permit solely for their own use.
> If the process initiated by this notice results in the addition of M.
> piceus to the list of injurious wildlife contained in 50 CFR part 16,
> their importation into the United States would be prohibited except under
> the conditions, and for the purposes, described above.
> This notice solicits economic, biologic, or other information concerning
> M. piceus. The information will be used to determine if the species is a
> threat, or potential threat, to those interests of the United States
> delineated above, and thus warrants addition to the list of injurious
> wildlife in 50 CFR 16.13. The information will also assist us in preparing
> impact analyses and examining alternative protective measures under the
> Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601).
> Authority: This notice is issued under the authority of the
> Lacey Act (18 U.S.C. 42).
> Dated: May 16, 2000.
> Jamie Rappaport-Clark,
> Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
> [FR Doc. 00-13557 Filed 6-1-00; 8:45 am]
> WHAT CAN YOU DO?
> 1. COPY THE FOLLOWING LETTER OR DRAFT YOUR OWN AND SEND IT TO THE
> FOLLOWING USFWS STAFF AND MEMBERS OF THE AQUATIC NUSCIENCE SPECIES TASK
> Susan_Mangin_at_fws.gov, Jamie_Clark at fws.gov, Nancy_Gloman at fws.gov,
> a_gordon_brown_at_ios.doi.gov, Hannibal_Bolton at fws.gov, Kari_Duncan at fws.gov,
> Sandra_Kepner_at_fws.gov, Denny_Lassuy at fws.gov, Bob_Pitman at fws.gov,
> Linda_Drees_at_fws.gov, Pam_Thiel at fws.gov, Gary_Sonnevil at fws.gov,
> Pat_Carter_at_fws.gov, cathleen_short at fws.gov, Sally.J.Yozell at noaa.gov,
> snewsham_at_comdt.uscg.mil, wes.smtp.therioe at ex1.wes.army.mil,
> redford.david_at_epa.gov, Bill.S.Wallace at usda.gov, Sally.L.McCammon at usda.gov,
> blumberg_at_state.gov, moserfc at state.gov, kahabka.j at nypa.gov,
> jdekam_at_concentric.net, harding.russell at deq.state.or.us, mdonahue at glc.org,
> gary.isbell_at_dnr.state.oh.us, ldunn at pda005.pda.state.pa.us,
> cotfma_at_northernway.net, nkmiecik at win.bright.net,
> mikeh_at_dec.anr.state.vt.us, judith.freeman at noaa.gov,
> breeves_at_mail.state.tn.us, rlukens at gsmfc.org, sharon_gross at fws.gov
> Dear Director Clark, USFWS Staff, and members of the ANS Task Force:
> I am writing this letter in response to comment on the Injurious Wildlife;
> Review of Information Concerning Black Carp (Mylopharyngodon piceus)
> published in the Federal Register 2 June 2000. I urge you to use your
> authority to list the exotic black carp as an injurious species under the
> Lacey Act. As you have stated on your web page, the control and spread of
> exotic species is one of the top priorities of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife
> Service (http://www.fws.gov/prioinv.html). Exotic species introductions
> are one of the most serious natural resource issues faced by the United
> States today. The introduction of exotic species is costing the U.S.
> taxpayer billions of dollars each year. The zebra mussel alone costs U.S.
> industries approximately $3 billion a year and, a recent study presented
> at the American Association for the Advancement of Science estimated that
> non-native species cause $123 billion in damage annually. Freshwater
> mollusks are the most endangered group of animals in North America.
> Because black carp can grow quickly to a large size (3-4 feet in length)
> and feed almost exclusively on mollusks, this exotic species has the
> potential to adversely impact endangered mollusk populations and perhaps
> drive some to extinction. In order to protect our nations endangered
> molluscan fauna it is imperative that this species be listed as injurious
> and eliminated from North America.
> The Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society, Mississippi Interstate
> Cooperative Resource Association, American Fisheries Society (the nations
> largest society of fisheries professionals) and others have called for the
> elimination of all black carp stocks in North America. The vast majority
> of fisheries biologists in the states within the Mississippi River
> drainage and throughout North America also want this species abolished.
> Scientists at the USGS/Biological Resources Science Center in Gainesville
> Florida have developed and published a detailed risk assessment on the
> black carp's potential for harm to the environment. In their report they
> concluded that there was a high risk to aquatic resources if this species
> were to escape and proliferate. I urge you to contact USFWS field staff,
> state fisheries biologists, and others and solicit their opinions on this
> issue. By working together we can help solve the problem faced by the
> catfish farmers without using the black carp.
> Another issue needs to be raised here. The use of genetically sterile or
> triploid fish as a management tool or policy to prevent the spread of
> exotic fish species has failed miserably. There are no demonstrated cases
> where the use of triploids has prevented the eventual escape and
> proliferation of exotic fishes. In fact, all of the other species of Asian
> carp (silver, bighead, grass) under theoretical control by using triploids
> have escaped into U.S. waters, and all have been able to establish
> themselves and reproduce in the wild. Recent fish kill investigations in
> backwater pools of the upper Mississippi River have documented up to 97%
> of the fish collected were Asian Carp. These large numbers of exotic
> species are undoubtedly producing significant negative impacts on the
> River's native fish species. The use of triploid black carp is NOT a
> viable option here. Genetically sterile fish can still consume large
> numbers of mollusks throughout their lives.
> The USFWS needs to do all that it can within its power to see that the
> black carp does not proliferate as all of the other carp species have
> done. The choice on this issue is clear. If protecting the nations
> endangered aquatic resources and helping to control the spread of exotic
> species is a priority of the USFWS, then I urge you to act now to help rid
> North America of this exotic while there is still time.
> Kevin S. Cummings
> Research Scientist
> Illinois Natural History Survey
> 607 E. Peabody Drive
> Champaign, IL 61820
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