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Re: Collecting in TN

In a message dated 97-03-31 08:02:54 EST, you write:

< Dear Mr. Whitfield:
<  I read the e-mail you sent to NANFA about collecting in Tennessee. One big
problem with mussels is that ALL live < mussels are protected from collection
with the exception of a few large (mostly reservoir tolerant) species of
           < commercial importance, and as you said, these require a
commercial liscence. This is really good! Most of our        < native mussels
are in a great deal of trouble, primarily from habitat degredation. In
addition, most people (even people < who study mussels) have a difficult time
identifying them!
<  If you have questions regarding Tennessee fishes, feel free to contact me
via e-mail. I have been working with         < endangered native fishes in
the southeast for about 15 years.
< J. R. Shute
< Conservation Fisheries, Inc. >>

Thanks for responding, J.R.  I believe you have just made the point for
NANFA's main reason for existance.  Not only mussels but many of our native
fishes are disappearing at an alarming rate, and almost exclusively because
of habitat degradation.  There are some very beautiful and interesting
mussels in Tennessee, some of which might well be suited for aquaculture.
 Obviously, this would keep them from becoming extinct.  Instead, these
animals live, die, and gradually fade from existance without most people even
knowing they ever existed.  While our rivers are dammed, our streams suffer
from contaminents, and our lakes have fish not safe to eat, game and fish
people enforce the existing laws on the very people most able and willing to
help.  Please don't misunderstand me.  I'm not saying game and fish laws
should not be obeyed; they should be obeyed.  I am simply saying that, while
individuals are kept from learning how to culture these and other animals,
habitats continue to disappear and degrade.  People will not save what they
do not love, and they cannot love what they do not know.

I sincerely hope we can come to some sort of understanding between hobbyists
and amateur naturists on one side, and professional conservationists and
authorities on the other.  Perhaps that will allow us all to work together to
bring our native fauna to the attention of the masses before many more
species are extinct.

Mike Whitfield