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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 :

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
resources .

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
native fishes.