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Ban on Aquarium Plants

Recently, Karen Randall alerted us to the fact that the Massachusetts state
legislature was considering an ill-conceived and misguided attempt to ban the
import of "non-native" aquatic plant species into the state.  I fear that
this may only be the beginning, and that coastal states and those with
extensive inland waterways may be particularly at risk for such legislation. 
The fact that New Hampshire has already fallen victim to such a law should
serve as a warning.  Forewarned is forearmed...let's prepare in advance and
not wait until a bill is actually introduced into our state legislatures.  I
think that if we as a group arm ourselves with the facts concerning the
"non-native" species that are so important to our hobby, we may be able to
defeat such attempts at regulation.  As a member of the Aquatic Gardeners
Association I would be willing to help draft a generic letter that could be
used by hobbyists in states where such legislation looms.  I am not, however,
an expert in biological invasions and would need some technical advice.  I
think that any letter we draft should show that we have a thorough
understanding of the subject and should include the reasons why the aquarium
plants we cultivate pose no threat to waterways and native species.  It would
certainly help our cause if we could have the sage advice of  Paul Krombholz,
Dr. Dave and others who are experts in the field and have the requisite
academic credentials.  What I have in mind is a one-pager (most legislators
won't read anything longer) with an introductory statement of purpose and
then a list of  bulletized facts (i.e non-native species are inadvertently
transported by boats, not by hobbyists;  species common to the aquarium hobby
will not survive in local waters; etc.).  It might be more effective if such
a letter appeared on AGA letterhead.  I am sure that most state legislators
don't even know we exist, or that we have an association to protect our
interest.  Now that we know that there is a  threat, we should use the power
of this list to protect our hobby.  Letter writing campaigns do work if they
are properly organized.  Please send me your advice/opinions offline.

Jonathan in still sunny (but cooler) Maryland

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