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Turning Over a New Leaf....


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#1 Guest_BTDarters_*

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Posted 24 October 2016 - 11:51 PM

Everyone,

 

There has been some discussion between myself and some other NANFA members recently about the regulations regarding shipping native fishes between states in the U.S. and the legalities of such activities.  Please forgive me if you know this already, but I thought not everyone was aware of the differences in regulations from state-to-state.  This pertains to "game" fishes, "non-game" fishes and fishes that are destined to end up in an aquarium.  Or all three.  What I had thought that many people were also unaware of is that some states do not allow you to ship native fishes to them, even fishes that are native to that state, for any purpose.  

 

I apologize that I have not frequented the forum much.  Perhaps I would be more aware of peoples' thoughts on these things if I had.  Because I have done my own efforts over the years to do what I thought was legally "compliant", I have become out-of-touch with the community.  Please forgive me if you already know the things I am about to share with you, but I am sharing it anyways because I don't know what legislation you may be aware of and from what I do know, I see a big problem out there.  

 

Some of the problems I'm seeing out there are vet health-check requirements of any fishes to be shipped, annual state permits that are in some cases $90.00 to $100.00 USD per year for each state to ship any fishes, species-specific state import requirements, requirements of the receiving state government to have detailed records of all of your collection locations and, worst yet, the complete disallowing of anyone to ship any native fishes to some states.

 

Why do I bring these things up, you may ask?  I'm a vendor and should be able to deal with these things, right?  Well, I am, but I see the problem as bigger than one I can deal with alone.  Most specifically, the problem of states disallowing the shipment of any native fishes to their state.  I will admit, I am a little selfish in this regard.  If I were to tell you that I wanted these laws to change only so that you could ship fishes to those states, that would be a lie.  But what I'm seeing from government agencies is growing to the point that it can effect the entire hobby of native fish collecting and sales.  By vendors or otherwise.

 

What am I going to do about this?  Heretofore, I have refrained from posting my legal findings on the forum due to the fact that I didn't want other vendors to "steal" information that it has in some cases taken me years to acquire.  But I came to the realization this evening that me "hoarding" that information is not helping anyone, even me.  So what I am going to do is to start posting my legal findings on the forum so that everyone can be aware of the requirements to have fishes shipped to their state.  Also so that if fish can't be shipped somewhere, contacts can be made and perhaps the law can be changed.  

 

For those of you who have heard me touting the NANFA Code of Ethics lately and are sick of it, let me apologize.  Please allow me to quote one of the NANFA objectives: "to increase and disseminate knowledge about North America's native fishes and their habitats among aquarium hobbyists, biologists, fish and wildlife officials, anglers, educators, students, and others, through publications, electronic media, regional and national meetings, and other means."  Let me increase your knowledge about the legalities of keeping native fishes in aquaria, so that we all can learn "The captive propagation of native fishes [that] can play a key role in conservation efforts"!

 

Thanks for reading!  Please look for my upcoming posts in the Rules & Regs section.  Please note that I haven't yet investigated all 50 states.  The process takes a long time.  But I hope to post steadily.  Also, I welcome your feedback.  Please reply to this post, send me a PM, or drop me an email or give me a call.  Thanks!

 

Brian



#2 gerald

gerald
  • Global Moderator
  • Wake Forest, North Carolina

Posted 25 October 2016 - 09:51 AM

Thanks for doing this Brian, and i'm glad to see you active on the forum again.  In most states, trade in pet fish isn't something the agencies have historically paid much attention to, beyond prohibiting known dangerous, invasive, or protected species.  When you ask a state agency "what are the rules" on collecting and trading N. American native fish, you may end up with a particular fishery agent's interpretation of how he or she thinks their state's regs ought to apply, when in fact the committee that developed the rules hadn't really thought about aquarium trade at all.  Looking forward to reading your posts.


Gerald Pottern
-----------------------
Hangin' on the Neuse
"Taxonomy is the diaper used to organize the mess of evolution into discrete packages" - M.Sandel


#3 Guest_BTDarters_*

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Posted 25 October 2016 - 10:52 PM

Thanks, Gerald!  It has been too long.  

 

Regarding interpretation of the laws, I know that it can sometimes be that individual agents will interpret the laws in a way that may not be the way that the committee intended.  However, don't we need to respect their position and abide by their interpretation?  Or ask more questions that may lead to a furtherance of their understanding of what we are trying to do?  

 

Brian



#4 Guest_BTDarters_*

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Posted 25 October 2016 - 10:53 PM

Here's my first post regarding the legislation.  This one is for the state of Indiana:

 

http://forum.nanfa.o...hem-in-aquaria/

 

Brian



#5 fritz

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  • Board of Directors

Posted 26 October 2016 - 08:00 AM

Thank you Brian. This will be very helpful to all.



#6 Guest_BTDarters_*

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Posted 29 December 2016 - 08:34 PM

I've made another post.  This time about the state of Massachusetts.  Here's the link:

 

http://forum.nanfa.o...nd-hunting-law/

 

On another point about these posts, I have noticed, in emails at least, that there are frequently many state employees that are copied on native fish "stuff".  If you're reading this and are a state or federal employee who knows the regulations for keeping native fishes in your state or in the nation, I would ask you to please post that information in the Rules & Regulations section of the forum.  I think we all want to do the right thing here.  If native fishes are or are not allowed to be possessed in your jurisdiction, please the rules and post why, as well as your contact information.  We are fortunate that many forum members have posted what they have found the regulations to be for some states.  However, the regulations coming from someone who works for a governing agency carries a lot more legal "weight".  Please help us do the right thing!  Thanks.

 

Brian



#7 Michael Wolfe

Michael Wolfe
  • Board of Directors
  • North Georgia, Oconee River Drainage

Posted 29 December 2016 - 09:02 PM

I'm glad you added that at the end Brian.  I don't really trust anything that someone says that someone else said... there is always too much interpretation.  There are lots of people even at the state agencies, that do not actually have the authority to interpret the law.  But if we could get an actual state non-game biologist, that would be great.


Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. - Benjamin Franklin

#8 Guest_BTDarters_*

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Posted 29 December 2016 - 09:43 PM

Agreed.  Thanks, Michael!

 

Brian



#9 Matt DeLaVega

Matt DeLaVega
  • Board of Directors
  • Ohio

Posted 30 December 2016 - 08:03 AM

I am afraid that the easiest thing for states to do is follow Tennessee and ban all collecting of fish. I fear that searching too deeply for a straight answer might get us answers we don't want. I don't advocate doing anything illegal, but I am satisfied with my own ability to interpret the law. At this point if there is no law spelling out that keeping fish in a given state is illegal, then it is legal. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.


The member formerly known as Skipjack


#10 itsme

itsme
  • NANFA Member

Posted 05 January 2017 - 05:00 PM

Yes, I think it is true that asking for an answer to a question that has not already been answered puts us at risk of losing privileges.  We are a _very_ small constituency, unlike the tropical fish trade or the sport fishing and equipment trades.  So we don't have the sway to get what we want when regulators start looking at the ins and outs.  It is a complicated issue that may very well generate simplistic rules.  (What would you do, make your own job harder or easier?)  So I think our focus needs to be loudly and consistently promoting responsibility on the part of fish collectors and keepers.  Issue number one being:  Never, never, never, even if there is a gun to your head, release any live animal to the wild.  And B: Get everyone up to speed as well as possible on what species live where and how to ID them.  So NANFA's education mission is the key driver here.  I don't mean to suggest that we should create discouragement by telling people, "You can't do this and you can't do that!".  But rather, focus on education in a positive sense and create a reputation for ourselves among regulators that _native_fish_people_are_the_most_responsible_and knowledgeable nature lovers out there.



#11 gerald

gerald
  • Global Moderator
  • Wake Forest, North Carolina

Posted 06 January 2017 - 10:47 AM

Well said, Mark. 


Gerald Pottern
-----------------------
Hangin' on the Neuse
"Taxonomy is the diaper used to organize the mess of evolution into discrete packages" - M.Sandel


#12 itsme

itsme
  • NANFA Member

Posted 06 January 2017 - 02:38 PM

Thanks, Gerald!  I do think it is valuable to gather and disseminate as much info as possible about the state and federal laws and rules that apply to what we do.  Partly to avoid legal troubles on an individual basis.  But also to avoid a situation where something goes down and there is negative publicity targeting native fish keepers.  That goes back to the "reputation" issue.  We need to have an excellent reputation, legally and ethically.  We need it because it enables us to keep doing what we love to do.  Enjoying and learning about our fishes, as well as the good work we do by educating, creating a spirit of stewardship in a larger population and actual conservation work.  So if we can find and hopefully archive for everyone's access, the existing laws and rules and policies, we are advancing our cause.  Again, it's part of the education mission.  I am also in favor of gathering and sharing anecdotes about interactions with regulators and enforcers.  Hopefully not in the context of a gripe session where folks take out their frustrations, and create a reservoir of ill will.  But rather a body of cautionary tales that can be referenced for specific situations and locations.  I have been collecting fishes for decades.  I have _never_ been asked for my license in the field.  I explain this by recognizing that the places I fish are generally places where no one else fishes, so law enforcement is not looking for my ilk there.  But there are known locales where enforcement is heavy.  It would be valuable, particularly to newcomers, to know where this happens and where they had better not go without a license.  Also, what kind of activities (such as seining in restricted Trout waters) to avoid in particular places.  The point being, not to evade the law, but again, to maintain a reputation as good guys in this venture.  We do weird stuff, and people who encounter us may react negatively just on that basis.  Hopefully, they'll say, "Wow, cool, what are you catching!", not "Hey, that's illegal!"  Knowing the law will help in that regard too.  Also knowing your state and local wildlife workers would be helpful.  



#13 itsme

itsme
  • NANFA Member

Posted 06 January 2017 - 03:48 PM

I would be in favor of providing a grant or stipend to someone like Brian to share what he has found and to continue the research.  I'd be willing to support such an initiative financially.

 

Mark



#14 don212

don212
  • NANFA Member

Posted 11 January 2017 - 09:17 PM

personally, i think if Brian puts this out there a lot, he will endanger his ability to do business, agencies seem to be awakening to hazards in this area either rightly or wrongly, better to work on potential harmful regulations



#15 Guest_BTDarters_*

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 09:56 PM

I am afraid that the easiest thing for states to do is follow Tennessee and ban all collecting of fish. I fear that searching too deeply for a straight answer might get us answers we don't want. I don't advocate doing anything illegal, but I am satisfied with my own ability to interpret the law. At this point if there is no law spelling out that keeping fish in a given state is illegal, then it is legal. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

 

Yes, I think it is true that asking for an answer to a question that has not already been answered puts us at risk of losing privileges.  We are a _very_ small constituency, unlike the tropical fish trade or the sport fishing and equipment trades.  So we don't have the sway to get what we want when regulators start looking at the ins and outs.  It is a complicated issue that may very well generate simplistic rules.  (What would you do, make your own job harder or easier?)  So I think our focus needs to be loudly and consistently promoting responsibility on the part of fish collectors and keepers.  Issue number one being:  Never, never, never, even if there is a gun to your head, release any live animal to the wild.  And B: Get everyone up to speed as well as possible on what species live where and how to ID them.  So NANFA's education mission is the key driver here.  I don't mean to suggest that we should create discouragement by telling people, "You can't do this and you can't do that!".  But rather, focus on education in a positive sense and create a reputation for ourselves among regulators that _native_fish_people_are_the_most_responsible_and knowledgeable nature lovers out there.

 

Matt, Mark,

 

I have to disagree with you both vehemently on some points.  I'm not "searching too deeply for straight answers".  I am finding that these answers already exist out there.  The reason that the answers to these questions are not known is that you are not taking the time to ask them.  And I feel bad for native fish keepers, because in a lot of cases the answer is "no".  Massachusetts is example #1.  I've not asked about seining or snorkeling in the states I've checked with.  I've only checked the regs for possessing and transporting native fishes for aquarium purposes.  Mark, you've encouraged "Responsibility on the part of the fish collector and keeper."  Isn't being responsible finding out what you can or cannot do legally and not doing what is illegal?  If we want to, "create a reputation for ourselves among regulators that _native_fish_people_are_the_most_responsible_and knowledgeable nature lovers out there", we have to be responsible.  That means if the answer is "no", abide by it until the law changes.  And work on action to change the law if you want it changed.

 

For those of you who don't know, this is an argument that I've had with Fritz for a very long time.  It seems like there are more than some people in NANFA who think that abiding by the law is checking with the state regs for the purposes of having a convention in that state and "interpreting the laws yourself" the rest of the year.  I am strongly opposed to that mindset.  Education may be the key to winning this war, but we still have to do the right thing until we see the change in the laws that we want to see.

 

If anyone wants to join me in this fight, my email is bt@btdarters.com.  More contact details can be found on my website, www.btdarters.com, if email's not your thing.  I think, at this time, I will have to fight this fight away from NANFA, though.  I am seeing too many people in positions of authority within this organization that want to be "responsible" in word and not in action.  I have actually quit the club once already over this.  I think that perhaps I was right the first time around.  Moderators, please remove my membership from the forum.  Thank you.

 

Brian



#16 Matt DeLaVega

Matt DeLaVega
  • Board of Directors
  • Ohio

Posted 17 January 2017 - 11:02 PM

 Nobody has advocated doing anything illegal. Some have simply said "If there is no law stating that keeping fish is illegal, then it isn't" Why dig into it? Do you want it to be illegal? That equates to me as hounding authorities for more legislature on keeping fish. In the USA that I live in, if it isn't written as illegal, then it is legal, and you are innocent until proven guilty. If a fish keeper cannot find a law stating they can't keep fish, then that is the end of responsibility. We all know snakehead are illegal to keep. If native fish are illegal to keep as well, they should make it known. That is not your job. I know that VHS is a real bum deal for you, I wish it weren't so as it seems to be a big freak out over nothing.


The member formerly known as Skipjack


#17 Irate Mormon

Irate Mormon
  • NANFA Member
  • Crooked Creek, Mississippi

Posted 18 January 2017 - 10:33 AM

I think that the actual point of contention here is whether you should ask a state agency to clarify what the law is, in relationship to collecting and related activities.  Because it is not always clear and is often contradictory.  Some agencies feel like collecting pet fishes is no big deal and is not something they are interested in prohibiting.  And then there's Tennessee.   So, you insist on getting an answer to your burning question, because there is a grey area in the law.  Yeah, go ahead and do that.  

 

You could also just get a commercial license, which will offer you considerably more leeway.  Because that fee makes all the difference in what is legal and what is not.


-Martin
 
Neither Mormon, nor particularly Irate. 
 
Turning money into noise!


#18 fundulus

fundulus
  • Global Moderator

Posted 22 January 2017 - 07:16 PM

An autobiographical review of being a lizard ecologist by Eric Pianka just came out in the Journal of Herpetology, "Challenges Facing Today's Lizard Ecologists". Pianka is always fun because he has some deep-seated crankiness. Part of his crankiness comes from increasing regulation of collecting lizards in both the US and Australia which he blames on habitat degradation from growing population. It's really what we're talking about here, and doesn't bode well for the future. If you want a copy of the article, email me at stallsb at uah.edu.
Bruce Stallsmith, Huntsville, Alabama, US of A

#19 Doug_Dame

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  • NANFA Member

Posted 23 January 2017 - 10:16 AM

Pianka is always fun because he has some deep-seated crankiness. 

 

"Deep-seated crankiness" is a really good phrase.


Doug Dame

Floridian now in Cincinnati
 





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