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Re: Shipping plants across borders (WAS: Shipping Plants into Canada)
I've changed the subject line becasue this is really applicable to more than
just the U.S./Canadian border.
"If the point is to ensure that certain plants aren't sent, then it
seems that it would be better to publish a list of illegal plants.
If I know I'm not shipping any of those, I'd be free to mail some
plants to Canada. Since, as you say, the system assumes most people
are honest, this would be much more effective. Instead, the system
makes it (essentially) impossible for non-commercial aquarists to
ship a few plants back and forth legally. So MANY aquarists will
skirt the laws, and ship plants illegally. And that may increase
the chances that some "forbidden" plants will be shipped into
Actually, there ARE lists of plants which can't be sent across borders, most
countries would have them. In the case of Canada, the links I gave the other
day would lead you to just such a listing.
In Canada'a case, there are very few aquatic plants listed, and fewer still
which are of concern/interest to aquarists. Remember, we have a _long_,
_cold_ winter here, and anything dangerous from the tropics is usually taken
care of by a cold blast of Artic air.
But it isn't so much the PLANT which poses the risk. It is the
pests/diseases which might be living on or in those plants which is the main
reason for the paranoia of the law. I've just checked the various schedules
which apply, and found long lists of pest and diseases which can be
harboured by seemingly benign plant material which could potentially cause a
great deal of environmental damage should they be set free here, or in any
other country with a large and economically important agriculture/forestry
To be honest, very few, if any, of those listed pests are likely to be on
The law also makes clear that, for the most part, aquatic plants grown in
aquariums or sterile media are OK to import into Canada - it would be far
easier, for example, to get aquarium grown plants approved than it would be
to get something dug out of the back bush in South America or South East
Asia, complete with the soil in which it grew. I believe that the
phytosanitary certificate which I mentioned the other day is mainly used to
ensure that the plant material is pest/disease free, and certificed as such
by a competent authority in the exporting country.
Private individuals, who rarely have the training and/or experience in
assessing bio-hazards, even _with_ an assumption of honesty, are hardly
dependable assessors of potential risks. The private individual might not
even be aware of the pest/disease risk. Then there are also those who place
their own self interests above those of others and would import/export
material despite any potential risk.
There is also a distinction made between commercial and private imports. It
is highly unlikely that anyone is going to get too upset with a private
individual receiving a few aquarium grown plants in the mail, if they are
for his/her own use.
If they are for sale, well, that's a whole different kettle of fish, and a
whole different set of provisions, some of which include hefty fines and
possible confiscation of property. If you are planning a business venture,
it is always best to follow both the letter and the spirit of any
appropriate laws. For example, in a worst case scenario, the maximum
financial penalty which may be imposed upon a private individual breaking
these sorts of regulations is $2,000.00, and this penalty may be doubled, to
$4,000.00 by the Minister for repeat offenders. For commercial violators,
the maximum penalties are more in the order of $10,000.00 and the wording is
vague enough to allow for even higher fines.
If you want a handfull of Java Moss for your own tank, from a friend
overseas, by all means follow Richard's suggestion of sending it unmarked
via the mail. Nobody will likely be upset with you. If you want to set up a
business...... forwarned is forearmed....