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[APD] Re: USDA/Fish and Game

"A few weeks ago, I started a thread here about the algae eating snails, 
Neritina natalensis, after hearing Oliver Knott of Graben-Neudorf, Germany, 
recommend them at the APD meeting in Washington.  He even gave me the name 
of a store in Karlsruhe from which I could order some.

I then contacted the U. S. Dept. of Agriculture and the Fish and Wildlife 
Service to see if I could import them.  I was told verbally by 
representatives of both services that they could find no problems with the 
species, but that I would have to file an application with the USDA for a 
permit.  So I did that.

I just want to report that my application to import a dozen snails has been 
denied. It came back, stamped:

"This application for Neritina natalensis is denied. This organism is an 
exotic organism, that does not occur in the destination state."

Well, yes, that was why I wanted to import them.

John T. Fitch"

We've had them here for some time.
They look neat, some claim miracles, but I've seen few herbivores ever do that in a contolled study. They may tip the scale with milder issues, but if you have milder issues, work on that without the herbivore reliance, the algae means there is room for improvement for plant growth and health of the tank.
Herbivores allow you to abuse the tank more, these are pretty snails.
I'm not that sure they do as much as some claim, I've seen them in tanks with algae, the algae is still there and doing well.

As far as the Fish and Game, USDA, look at it from their prespective:
Consider Zebra mussels, Hydrilla, other noxious pest. How do get rid of these? Cost? Impacts from control and eradication on the environment? Can we even get rid of them or contol them? 
Is the USDA going to study them, spend a couple of years researching it and spend 50,000$ for that so someone can bring in some rare obscure snail????

What would you say as an exclusion manager?
12 or 1,200, doesn't matter, all it takes is one with eggs.
Predicting whether a species will be invasive and noxious is not easy.

You will need offer the USDA more support in the application than you did. (Studies on the organism, invasive potentials, use, German applications etc for importation to Germany etc, any disease vectors, Snails are dsisease carriers)

Permits are not easy to get for many things.  
Economically these snails are not particularly important(maybe later, doubtful) but an established professional larger scale  wholesaler might have a permit to import them and know the procedural "process" much better at getting these things approved. 

It's better for the environment that we might be denied a plant or two or a snail, fish etc, vs having to add biocides in our water to get rid and control these pest, that pisses everyone off and cost huge amounts of $.
It's happened before many times. 

It is in every aquarist interest to promote sound environmental management and preservation of natural areas.
Reef, FW plant, Fish only etc. 
Reef folks promote captive frags, fish breeders, plant exchanges, not releasing the exotics into the wild.

Pond folks tend to be the worst with aquatic plants from what we've seen here and need the most education.
We are starting with nuseries that sell pond plants and training them.
Keeping pond plants that are natives is a wise idea. 

If folks see these pest in nature, they soon realize how bad the issue is and how difficult it is to control or eradicate them. That's why the USDA, and other agencies are like this. If you learn and become aware about the invasive pest, you will most likely change your mind about all this. 

Tom Barr



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