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pass on to the group latest positioanl statemnt...
Well it is coming along here is the latest version after a rewrite or two
and a bit of editing..............
NANFA POSITION PAPER :
AMENDING STATE REGULATIONS TO GUARANTEE THE RIGHTS OF INDIVIDUALS TO
COLLECT AND KEEP NATIVE FISHES FOR THE HOME AQUARIUM.
Currently all across the continent 1,000's of individuals
are collecting , rearing and breeding native fishes in home
Aquariums. Their activities are shrouded in legal ambiguity.
In many cases the keeping of common fishes such as darters
and pygmy sunfishes is technically illegal. They are
illegal due to individual state regulators lack of
consideration of this common use of our fisheries resources.
While such cases seldom, if ever result in individuals being
prosecuted the possibility does exist. NANFA ( North
American Native Fishes Association ) has become a clearing
house for individuals interested in keeping native fishes.
Our unique makeup of 1/3 fisheries personnel and 2/3
Aquarist gives us a balanced perspective on the issue of
fisheries regulation. The purpose of this position paper is
to spur individual state regulatory committees to adjust
existing regulations to address the collecting and rearing
of native fish for the home Aquarium. We do not seek
anything but reasonable and rational access to our fisheries
First and foremost we are all aware that our fishes are a
unique renewable natural resource. We understand that the
public must work together with fisheries agencies to insure
their preservation. NANFA takes that role seriously .
NANFA is involved all across the country in stream
restoration, endangered species propagation and public
education. We in NANFA seek to conserve and learn about our
fishes within the framework of state regulations.
Unfortunately as has been stated before many of the
regulations did not have the Aquarist in mind when they were
developed. As such they are, in certain cases limiting or
stopping recreational collecting. We strongly believe to
impede the recreational collector while allowing the sport
fisherman or bait collector to continue without similar
restraint is irrational and wrong. The Aquarist who keeps
Native Fish is an invaluable untapped resource to state
agencies . Consider the following points.
1.) Aquarist typically deal in non game species. Their
expertise in raising and breeding such species makes them a
valuable untapped resource for fisheries personnel.
Propagation techniques developed by Aquarist in NANFA are
all ready being used by state fisheries departments involved
in threatened and endangered species propagation in the
states of Tennessee, Virginia, and Oregon . It is inevitable
that such partnerships will increase.
2.) With sanctioned involvement of Aquarist public education
would increase. With the increased public education,
involvement would also increase. For example NANFA has
several writers who typically write for Aquarium magazines
and expose 500,000 readers to native species and their care.
These are people who vote, pay taxes and were largely
ignorant of our native species.
3.) Aquarist spend over 1 billion dollars a year on their
hobby. It is reasonable that some of that money be spent on
local species via a collectors license or permit fee.
4.) With their backgrounds in aquarium propagation Aquarist
would be excellent partners in stream restoration projects.
Their skills could speed up the restoration of a damged
stream. Even to the point of returning specimens to their
historic watersheds. Specimens born and raised in home
5.) There are more Aquarist in this country than hunters
and fisherman combined. Encouraging their involvement in
local species could only benefit those species.
6.) The danger of introduction of non indigenous species to
new watersheds is minimal when compared with the risk of
existing stocking programs, bait collections etc.. Who is
more likely to introduce a new species to a watershed the
bait farm/ stocking program with 1,000,000 fish and a 3%
species by product (i.e. unintended species in the mix) or
an Aquarist with a few dozen shiners or darters ?
7.) With existing laws that limit recreational collecting
you are in effect encouraging individuals to kill fish while
discouraging them from preserving them ( i.e. you can
collect X amount to use as bait but can not collect for the
home aquarium ) such regulations are short sighted.
NANFA proposes a simple game species -non game species
system for Aquarist .This would be covered under a regular
fishing license or an additional collecting permit if that
is necessary. For example an individual could collect X
amount of non game species per day via seine net, dip net
or hook. It is simpler to just name the game species than to
name the non game species. In addition an individual can
collect via seine ,dipnet or hook X amount of under X size
game fish for home aquarium use. Scientific permits have
proven to be an ineffective means of allowing non game
species collecting. By their very nature they are exclusive.
For example a housewife in Illinois is very unlikely to be
able to acquire a scientific collecting permit so she can
collect Darters. The paperwork involved in such permits
makes them unsuitable as a means to allow collecting for the
home aquarium. They also are a difficulty to fisheries
personnel. Fisheries personnel must evaluate request for
scientific collectors permits on a case by case basis.
Instead of assuming a citizen as a worthy fisherman , the
scientific collecting permit takes a guilty until proven
innocent attitude. The paperwork for a scientific collecting
permit is just too formidable for the average citizen or
fisheries department to deal with on a large scale.
In conclusion we ask that you reevaluate existing
regulations and include the needs of the home aquarium
collector in your future plans. The home aquarium /collector
is a valuable untapped resource that is worthy of serious
consideration when evaluating fisheries programs and user
needs. To ignore them would be great disservice to our