[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Position paper...

Ok David Little Hale heres the latest version take a look at

                   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. This is due  to
state  regulations implemented with a lack of  consideration
of  this  common use of our fisheries resources. While  such
cases  seldom  result  in individuals being  prosecuted  the
possibility does exist. Many individuals in NANFA  have  had
unnecessary  field  confrontations with wardens  over  these
ambiguous  regulations  which leave interpretation  to  each
individual  warden.  NANFA ( North  American  Native  Fishes
Association  )  has become a clearing house for  individuals
interested   in  keeping  native  fishes.  Our  organization
balances  the  needs of collectors and our  native  species.
That  role  is our foremost function. Our unique  membership
composition  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  where necessary 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 NANFA members  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 the sanctioned involvement of Aquarist in  native-
keeping, public education and awareness would increase. With
the  increased public education, involvement would  increase
and  yield additional involvement in those species and their
conservation.  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

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  damaged
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 ? NANFA has
always been at the forefront voicing concern on the issue of
non  native species introduction and will remain so  in  the
future. Watershed integrity is one of our major focuses.

7.)  With  existing laws that limit recreational  collecting
those  laws  are in effect encouraging individuals  to  kill
fish while discouraging them from conserving 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, minnow
trap, dip net or hook. It is simpler to just name the game
species than to name the non game species. In addition allow
legally caught game fish  to be kept in the home aquarium.
It is reasonable to use them against a creel limit.

 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. 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. They are a unnecessary difficulty to the under
budgeted fisheries departments and their personnel.

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.