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Re: NFC: erp....

> So what's the verdict about collecting tomorrow?


> robert a rice wrote:
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> Cookie: HOMEPOP=aol:17:954079849760; PFUID=cc47f2b7391Robert Rice file://C:\My%20Documents\robertrice at juno_com
>    The invaders are here. Scores of them out-hustling, out-numbering and dining on the weaker rightful owners. Pushing them out of their homes on onto the fringes of their former homelands. Sounds terrible, doesn't it? It sounds like a case for Amnesty International. It's not though. It's a case for the Exotic Removal Team. You see, the invaders are the many types of escaped aquarium species living and reproducing in the Deep South. It's easy to pass the blame on who let em lose. Some say it was the aquaculture industry, others say it was individual aquarists, sick and tired of feeding their now too large pets, others blame it on misguided fisheries managers. At this point it really does not matter any more because they are out there in the hundreds of thousands. They are choking out native species and causing chaos in the food chain. It's a mess. In the Deep South we have Jewel Cichlids, Oscars, Mayan Cichlids, Pacus, Plecos, and countless other African and South American species
>   calling the USA home. We aquarists have this environmental mess properly laid at our feet. In an ironic twist aquarists are giving those same native species they put in peril a helping hand. We at the Native Fish Conservancy have come up with a unique twist to further fund conservation projects and fight back against the exotic hordes. Our solution, Exotic Removal Teams. Teams of people who like to collect and who have an environmental passion about the whole exotics issue. It's a very simple concept. Let's collect exotics, auction the small ones to northern fish clubs and terminate the rest. Everyone wins, exotics are removed, folks have fun and the NFC literally gets paid by aquarists to do conservation work (exotic species removal). A great idea, the money goes into a separate account and will accumulate until it is a suitable amount to do a special conservation project like buying land and easement rights on environmentally sensitive waterways or funding an endangered species
> What better way to fund the Native fish Conservation than off the backs of the introduced exotics? This is a great example of how aquarists can do a little something extra and make a big conservation difference. It all started with a simple sentence in a note I wrote to our email list at NFC at actwin_com. I asked the rhetorical question "Wouldn't it be nice if we could ship some of those cichlids up north to fund NFC's projects?" Suddenly it was like a switch was thrown, members and non-members from Southern Florida suddenly chimed in "I'd be willing to collect XYZ cichlids every month if it would help." Other folks up north volunteered to contact their aquarium societies and arrange shipping dates to coincide with upcoming events and auctions. In just a few days the program was fully fleshed out with an Administrator (Daryl Roche email Phylesis at aol_com), a website at http://www.webspawner.com/users/nfcfishauction/ to handle email auctions and a volunteer team to handle the project
> from beginning to end. Just like that, an idea became a reality. Aquarists were now part of the solution. Granted this little program won't change the world but it is a start; a very good start.
> It was decided early on to follow a good science approach to the whole issue. So the "Once caught, Once Bought, Never returned" concept became policy. Here's what "Once Caught, Never Returned" means. When an exotic is caught by a NFC Exotic Removal Team Member it will never be returned to any watershed in this country period. That means every collected large cichlid is humanly destroyed and sometimes eaten. The large cichlids are just about impossible to economically ship due to their spiked dorsal fins. The smaller ones are kept in quarantine ponds awaiting the next auction. If no acceptable offer is tendered they are terminated. Sometimes literally hundreds of cichlids, plecos and the like are caught in a day. More than we could reasonably sell. They are humanely destroyed without exception. The same goes for all of us in the NFC ERP when it comes to sport fishing, any exotics caught are never returned, period. The only exceptions are for species regulated by fishing agencies as
> sport fish, such as Peacock bass. "Once Bought, Never Returned" applies to all the buyers of these exotics. We require them to agree to never release any of the fish or their progeny into any waterway, period. It's obvious that aquarists should take responsibility for the many exotics released out there. We should all take an aggressive approach to keeping our fish where they belong, in our home aquariums.
> This program is a good solid program for several reasons. First the law is on our side, in most cases the collection of exotic fishes is unregulated. You can collect as many as you want as often as you want. The state agencies are as sick of them being there as we are. They are all too happy to have someone remove them. Second aquarists are becoming much more conservation minded and realize that if this rate of exotic releases continues we risk serious legislation limiting or banning the import of exotics. We have been sloppy stewards of our native flora and fauna. The time is right for all of us to do better. This activism makes all the difference in the world. So get involved. Let's talk irony for moment. Aquarists often speak with disdain about the ecological fiasco that is the Rift Lakes. The wonderful Rift Lakes and their Cichlids are in serious peril because of exotic introductions, pollution and bad lake management. You name the problem the Rift Lakes have it. The Nile Perch
> munches his way through one unique Rift species after another. In less than ten years it may very well be beyond repair. It is very sad. Aquarists rightly speak out against this unjustifiable ecological tragedy. Now for the irony these same Aquarist intentionally released Oscars and Mayan Cichlids into the Everglades. Today these Cichlids along with government introduced Tilapia are the dominant fish species in the Everglades. The Everglades, America's shining jewel of biological diversity is now just a bit too diverse. We aquarists should be very embarrassed for what we have done to the Everglades. I personally am. The biblical adage about removing the log in your own eye comes to mind when I think about the Everglades and the Rift Lakes.
> Enough carping (Ugh carp now that is another long story) about the wrongs that have been done. I'd rather talk about fixing the problem. If aquarists on a greater scale got involved with Conservation organizations we could make a huge difference. We Americans spend more money on our fish hobby than most small countries' GNP. So I will ask you to do three things. First VOW to never release an unwanted Aquarium fish to any waterway period. Freeze 'em, smoke 'em, trade 'em, eat 'em but never release them. Second cough up the 10-20 bucks and join the Native Fish Conservancy , Nature Conservancy, Audubon Society or any other Not For Profit conservation organization. Even if you get no more involved that being a passive member your membership counts for a lot. Third take the time to learn about your local flora and fauna. Take your kids, your date, your dad, anyone you can find collecting and watching. The best way to learn is to observe. There are also great books available on the wild
> things where you live. Find them via the web (check out the NFC website http://nativefishes.interspeed.net for links to most of them) or your state fisheries department or your local bookstore. For example I just read the new Fishes of Missouri by William Pflieger, loved it. Had a nice bit on keeping natives in the home aquarium. BTW it's only 15 bucks 300 plus pages lotsa color photos.
> As you can see this is a very worthwhile and practical project that could use your help. If you live down south and would like to join or create an Exotics Removal Team in your town. Or if you or your Aquarium Society is interested in Florida wild-caught cichlids, plecos and the like for your next Society Function Please contact the ERP administrator.
> Robert Rice
> Save those Fishes,  Join the Native Fish Conservancy
> http://www.nativefish.org
> Love those gartersnakes? visit
> http://gartersnake.net