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More questions on the Exotic Removal Program

I would like to start by saying that I think that the exotics removal
program is a great idea IF the intent is to raise money and to gain
knowledge about the best ways to capture and transport live fish. However, I
seem to sense the feelings among some members that we are achieving a small
ecological victory for native fish by the removal of exotic cichlids from
the canals of south Florida.  Maybe before we jump to such a conclusion a
few questions should be asked.

1. How many individual exotic fish are there in the canals?

2. How many exotic fish have been removed so far?  The messages seem to
indicate no more than a few dozen.

3. What is the total annual demand for the species of exotics that  live in
the canals?  This would be the theoretical maximum number of fish that could
be removed each year for aquarium use.

4. How quickly do the target species reproduce? The slower they reproduce,
the more effective their removal will be.

5. What native species is being impacted by the introduced exotic?  This
question would seem to have ethical connotations, since it might be judged
more vital to control an introduced species that was outcompeting a native
species than it would be to control an introduced species that found an
unoccupied ecological niche.

6. What species lived in the area before human intervention? I believe that
the canals were man made, to feed the water demands of Miami. Some people
might see the introduction of exotics into a totally artificial habitat as
little different than stocking a man made reservoir (admitedly, the risk of
spread of the exotic species into adjoining natural waterways must be
considered, in either case).

Maybe I am looking at this wrong, but it seems to me that in a situation
where an introduced species is spreading prolifically (and do we even know
that they are doing that? Another question!), removing a tiny proportion of
the individuals will do nothing at all to stem the expansion of the
population. That genie is hard to put back in it's bottle.

I truely mean no disrespect for the hard working people who operate the
Exotics Removal Program. You guys are doing a great job, with way too little
thanks. But as the organization grows, we are going to get more and more
media attention.  I humbly suggest that we be careful about claiming that
the Exotics Removal Program is doing anything about controlling the numbers
of exotics in the wild unless we can prove that that is the case.