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"Christian C. Burke" <cburke.fish-head at worldnet_att.net>: NANFA Position Paper

OKAY Folks...we are close to the end on this rewrite please add your 2
cents worth befor I incorperate this into a BOD proposal that will go
out to all the states and feds.....................

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From: "Christian C. Burke" <cburke.fish-head at worldnet_att.net>
To: robertrice at juno_com
Subject: NANFA Position Paper
Date: Sun, 06 Apr 1997 14:55:43 -0700
Message-ID: <33481BDF.F58 at worldnet_att.net>

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Hi Robert,

Attached is a revised version of the position paper.  I think it flows a
little better, but you may disagree.  I won't be offended if you do not
use any of the changes.  This is a plain text file, but let me know if
you have any problems extracting it.



Christian C. Burke

Email:      cburke.fish-head at worldnet_att.net
Home Page:  http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/2640/

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                   NANFA POSITION PAPER:

Thousands of individuals across the continent are currently collecting,
rearing, and breeding native
fishes in home aquariums, yet their activities are shrouded in legal ambiguity.  It is illegal in many
cases to keep common fishes such as darters and pygmy sunfishes.  This is
due to state regulations
implemented without consideration of this common use of our fisheries
resources.  While such
cases seldom result in individuals being prosecuted, the possibility
still exists.  Many collectors
have had unnecessary field confrontations with conservation officers
because of ambiguous
regulations that leave interpretation to each individual conservation

The North American Native Fishes Association (NANFA) 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 one third fisheries personnel and two third's aquarists provides us with 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
allow the collecting and
rearing of native fishes.  We seek nothing more than reasonable and
rational access to our
fisheries resources.

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 ensure 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 was
previous stated, many of
the regulations did not have the aquarist in mind when they were
developed.  As such, they have
in many cases limited or stopped recreational collecting.  We strongly believe that to impede the
recreational collector while allowing the sport fisherman or bait
collector to continue without
similar restraint is irrational and wrong.

One major concern of regulatory agencies is the danger of introducing non
indigenous species to a
new watershed.  This has already occurred in many ecosystems, where it
has caused irreversible
damage to native populations.  This is more frequently a result of the
stocking of food, game, or
bait fish rather than the activities of hobbyists.  Who is more likely to
successfully introduce a new
species to a watershed, a bait farm stocking program with one million
fish and a 3% by-product of
unintended species, or an aquarist with a few dozen shiners or darters? 
Regulations already exist
for bait/fish farms and government programs, so it is reasonable to
include restrictions for
recreational collectors.  NANFA has always been at the forefront of
voicing concern on the issue
of non native species introduction, constantly seeking to educate its
members and the public at
large about the dangers of such activities.  Promoting the collecting and
keeping of native species
increases public awareness about our nation's watersheds and ecosystems,
but current regulations
must be revised to allow this.

Consider the following points:

1.)  Existing laws that limit recreational collecting actually encourage
the killing of fish and 
discourage conserving them (i.e., one can collect "X" amount to use as bait but cannot collect for
the home aquarium).  Such regulations are short-sighted.

2.)  Aquarists 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 already being used by state fisheries
departments involved in
threatened and endangered species propagation in the states of Tennessee,
Virginia, and Oregon. 
It is desirable for such partnerships to multiply.

3.)  With their backgrounds in aquarium propagation, aquarists would be
excellent partners in
stream restoration projects.  Their skills could, for example, speed up
the restoration of a
damaged stream by returning specimens to their native watersheds. 
Specimens born and raised in
home aquariums could be used to restore depleted populations.

4.)  With the agency-sanctioned involvement of aquarists in native
fishkeeping, public education
and awareness would increase.  This would, in turn, result in increased
public involvement in the
conservation of those species.
5.)   There are more aquarists in this country than hunters and fisherman
combined.  Encouraging
their involvement in local species could only benefit those species. 
NANFA has several writers
who typically write for aquarium magazines and expose as many as 500,000 readers to native
species and their care.  These people, who vote and pay taxes, were
largely ignorant of our native
species, but such publications are increasing awareness.

6.)  Aquarists spend more than one billion dollars per year in the U.S.
alone on their hobby.  It is 
reasonable that some of that money be spent on local species via
collectors' licenses or permit

In most cases collectors must obtain scientific permits, but these have
proven to be ineffective
means of allowing general non game species collecting.  By their very
nature they are exclusive. 
Fisheries personnel must evaluate requests for scientific collectors'
permits on a case by case
basis.  This process takes 'a guilty until proven innocent' approach, as
citizens must prove
themselves worthy of a scientific collecting permit.  The paperwork for a
scientific collecting
permit is too complicated for the average citizen or fisheries department
to deal with.  The
average aquarist is unlikely to acquire a scientific collecting permit so
that he or she can collect
specimens.  Such permits are an unsuitable means of enabling collecting
because of the red tape
involved.  They also create an  unnecessary burden for the underbudgeted fisheries departments
and their personnel.

NANFA proposes a simple game/non game species permit system for
aquarists.  This would be
covered under a regular fishing license or an additional collecting
permit if 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 individually than to
name the non game species.  In addition, legally caught game fish could
be kept in the home
aquarium.  It is reasonable to use them against a creel limit.  Special
permits would still be
necessary to collect threatened/endangered or other special concern

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, worthy of serious consideration when evaluating fisheries
programs.  Ignoring them
does a great disservice to our native fishes and watersheds.


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