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Collecting in CA (was Re: [Killietalk] help-Fundulus parvipinnis)
*"Joseph S." <nonamethefish at gmail_com> wrote:*
Wright: from the looks of it you should know a bit on the collecting
regulations in CA? I hear tell that a "scientific collecting permit"
is required to take fish for aquarium use.
Basically, the situation is that careless fishermen have contaminated so
many native waters with bait "exotics" like goldfish, that the law was
finally made firm that no bait minnows can be moved from one body of
water to another and no store-bought fish (except from a licensed bait
shop) may be used.. There are many legal ways to catch bait fish, but
you must use them only in the waters where captured.
[Meanwhile, many CA counties still distribute free "mosquitofish"
(Damnbusia) that can be dumped in any body of water. Damnbusia are quite
notorious for creating extinctions of native egg-laying fish adapted to
a narrow environmental niche!]
Guess what? The local game warden can't tell that we are serious
students of piscatory renal function (i.e., compulsive water changers)
so we get tarred with the same brush and are mistaken for those
distributors of exotic destroyers of the habitats of our "native" fish,
like brown trout. :-) [The enormous damage caused by casual aquarists
who dump their tropical fish into the local creek doesn't help one bit,
The permits are, as I'm told by CA F&G, rarely issued, and then only to
major universities, museums or scientific research centers. I'm tempted
to test that, as I feel the close observation in aquarium conditions can
offer opportunity to contribute to better understanding of the
developmental and reproductive needs of certain threatened or endangered
desert species. Unfortunately, the bureaucrats have had it with
hobbyists who promise to produce useful results and are then never heard
from, again. We, through useful programs like KCC and ESP, need to
convince them that the study of dead fish in Formalin, or the
statistical manipulations of huge numbers by the fisheries biologist,
are not the only source of understanding of the fishes. Personal
observations of behaviour, needs, and breeding by experienced hobbyists
can add to our knowledge base, too.
Basically, no bureaucrat, no matter how well-meaning, dares issue a
permit if he knows he will have to face his boss next year and admit he
doesn't know what happened to the fish collected. That is particularly
true if it made no contribution to next year's budget and shows no
promise for future funding of the office. My suggestion is that you get
to know the local individuals in your Fish and Game office, and
volunteer to do any kind of scut work that will be useful to them. After
they have gotten to know you as a responsible person, who will do as he
says, they may let you help them with some local fishy situation that
might otherwise be neglected. As you get to understand their motivations
and needs, it may happen that they will be willing to seriously evaluate
CA is about the worst state for tolerating fish hobbyists, but even with
many years of work for the NV Fish and Wildlife folks by Desert Springs
Action Committee, they are most reluctant to issue permits for study of
White River Valley Springfish, because some hobbyists have stiffed them
and never returned any reports in the past. That was reinforced, when
they caught other hobbyists scuba-diving in Devil's Hole, poaching
*Cypr. diabolis* from the tiny population of only a few hundred that
The late Al Castro made huge strides when he worked through the CA
Academy of Sciences and Steinhart Aquarium. It was Al who showed that
*diabolis* would only reproduce, readily, in huge aquaria, despite the
small size of the fish and of their tiny natural habitat. Pupfish social
behaviour apparently makes them need better isolation for "nesting" than
other killies. OTOH, few know that *Crenichthys* will readily breed in
our small killy tanks, and that they are as spectacular as any Rainbow
with their flashing gold chromatophors during breeding time. We have a
long way to go to get legal permission to learn such things, I fear.
Even farther to go to enjoy some of our loveliest native fishes in our
Incentives work. Hobbyists are motivated by sharing new knowledge and
their fish with good friends. Bureaucrats (at the administrative level,
who issue permits) are busy placating the fishermen, building empires
and defending turf. It's a pity that folks as smart as we are haven't
done a better job of bringing those diverse needs into better alignment.
We, as hobbyists, are the big losers.
Wright Huntley - Rt. 001 Box K36, Bishop CA 93514 - whuntley at verizon_net
Samuel Adams advised: "It does not take a majority to prevail...but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men."
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