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Discarded Mussel Shells


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#1 RIVERRUNNER

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 02:16 PM

I reallize I could get this info from my local DNR, maybe; but I'm afraid of being known to them. (I'm somewhat of a paranoid anarchist).  8-[  I'd hate to be on their list of regular suspects. (small town, always on water). By the way I do try to obey Law.

I was pulled over once by the couny sheriff for a traffic violation after creek hiking (my brother & I still had wet pant legs), and was asked if I was in a gang! The Soggy Britches Boys? After a vehicle search, I was released with a warning. But enough of my anti-government ravings; to the point-

I've heard that collecting discarded mussel shells is illegal (NE TN). Do they serve some essential purpose (housing, mineral replenishment) to the waters? Of course, I'd never take or kill a living mussel, but I don't understand the reasoning behind this law. I hope the wrong person never sees my large collection of beautiful shells at home!  :oops:

#2 fundulus

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 03:59 PM

Tennessee is one of the states that you least want to be found in possession of mussel valves without a valid commercial or scientific permit. There is a serious mussel poaching problem, mostly for sale to Japanese buyers for pearl culture (the valves are ground up and used as "pearl starters" in commercial pearl mussels). You don't want to be found in possession of freshwater mussel valves in any state, but Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio are the most sensitive about it. Take all of the pictures you want but leave the valves in the streambed.
Bruce Stallsmith, Huntsville, Alabama, US of A

#3 EdBihary

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 04:30 PM

In other words, you may have illegally killed the shellfish, even though the shell has obviously been dead for a long time, and you obviously didn't kill it.  Talk about paranoia.  Guilty until proven innocent.  So much for that innocent until proven guilty crap they teach you in school.

God forbid some innocent kids get in the water and collect shells, as so many kids are wont to do.  My kid is fascinated by them, and as far as I'm concerned, I should encourage her, it is harmless and educational.  But, those kids must go to jail

#4 fundulus

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 04:57 PM

Well, I think that law officers have discretionary powers not to bust 7 year olds walking around with a shell. But the situation is somewhat like elephant ivory; how does someone in possession of it demonstrate that they acquired it legally without poaching it or buying it from poachers, if there's not a fairly heavy permitting process? The pearl industry prefers fresh valves. But given that many mussel populations and species are in decline and under pressure, how should wildlife agencies respond to what are arguably grey areas of possession? If they don't err on the side of protecting mussels, things could get worse and then we blame them for being useless.

I guess the reality is that this is one more example of too many people, but that's a whole different rant and I'd mostly be preaching to the converted.
Bruce Stallsmith, Huntsville, Alabama, US of A

#5 Uland

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 05:27 PM

View Postedbihary, on Jul 20 2007, 04:30 PM, said:

In other words, you may have illegally killed the shellfish, even though the shell has obviously been dead for a long time, and you obviously didn't kill it.  Talk about paranoia.  Guilty until proven innocent.  So much for that innocent until proven guilty crap they teach you in school.

God forbid some innocent kids get in the water and collect shells, as so many kids are wont to do.  My kid is fascinated by them, and as far as I'm concerned, I should encourage her, it is harmless and educational.  But, those kids must go to jail!

I had typed out a very long post just to stem off this type of reply but decided to wait until someone educated on the subject of mussels had a reply. I now wish I had posted my comments.

I can understand the "innocent before proven guilty" comment and a large part of me agrees with you Ed. I was going to comment on the fact that a friend and I watched a Bald eagle hunting and eating. Once the eagle was done with it's fishy meal and left, we paddled over to see what he ate. This was obviously a favorite location for this and/or other eagles since many feathers were in the area. My buddy gathered up quite a few and wanted to take them home. I had to tell him that he had to put them back. You should have seen the look on his face.

This situation isn't much different. In the message that I didn't post, I explained that if a market for empty mussel shells were ever to develop, and that source of shells (dead) were to become scarce, you can be assured live mussels would soon be harvested. I had no clue that an Asian market already existed and of all things a highly profitable commodity.....pearls.  I'm under the impression that American mussels are in very serious trouble. If you think that a cute little darter that's in trouble and needs attention due to water quality issues, think about how "cute" a mussel has to be to get any help! Say bye bye to the mussels :sad2:

If Bald eagle feathers (mussels) ever become a hot commodity and only feathers from dead animals can be taken, how long will that source last? How long will it take before bald eagles are killed for their feathers? You and I both know it would not take long for both to occur. I'd guess this is why you may not possess the shells.

I can see your point but try and see my point (which isn't comprehensive and might lack clarity). It would not be hard for my family to actually wipe out an entire stream population of mussels in a few weeks. I might not collect all of them but it's easy to see the declining populations are a trend and killing the adults might very well end that stream population forever. That is something I care not to live with.

I'd love to see very harsh penalties for those caught breaking the law with respect to taking live mussels. But what can you do? Execute a family for eliminating a mussel population? Will the public stand for executions? Who will catch these people? Who will train the people to catch these people? I wish there was an easy answer here but there isn't. I'd love a law that treated me as an honest and responsible person but I'd also like to see my fellow man have some respect for animals in trouble.
Floats up, lead down

#6 EdBihary

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 06:24 PM

View Postfundulus, on Jul 20 2007, 05:57 PM, said:

... how does someone in possession of it demonstrate that they acquired it legally...
That's a major part of my point; one shouldn't have to prove that he acquired it legally.  That's guilty until proven innocent.  Rather, the burden of proof should be on the authorities to prove that one acquired it illegally.  That's innocent until proven guilty.  And as for ivory, there's plenty of legal ivory out there.  It was all taken before the ban, mind you, but it's perfectly legal to possess.  The owner of an antique piano shouldn't have to prove he got his piano legally.

I understand and respect where you are coming from, Uland; I don't want to see them wiped out either.  But punishing innocent people who have done no harm, just because they or others MIGHT do harm in some other time and/or place, I have a real problem with.  That fits in with my definition of oppression.  That's my story, and I'm sticking with it.  See you in Kentucky!

#7 fundulus

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 06:55 PM

I realized that there is no "guilty until proven innocent" here, the laws simply state that one can't possess mussel valves without a valid permit of some sort. If you're challenged on this and can't produce a permit, you might be arrested and charged with said violation, and then tried in court with a presumption of innocence. It's kinda like any other law... strange thing.
Bruce Stallsmith, Huntsville, Alabama, US of A

#8 Brooklamprey

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 07:18 PM

There is zero reason to argue this...It is Illegal to collect and possess valves from native mussels in many states.
What you think of that is pointless. The fact is this is the law and it has been placed into effect for the protection of the various species in need of specific protection.

If you do not like it go vote and also lobby your state or the federal legislature..Whining about it here is not changing it if you feel so strongly about it.

There is no need to discuss validity in this, only state what laws are relivent to what state..
Richard Kik IV

#9 Scenicrivers

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 08:05 PM

View PostBrooklamprey, on Jul 20 2007, 08:18 PM, said:

There is zero reason to argue this...It is Illegal to collect and possess valves from native mussels in many states.
What you think of that is pointless. The fact is this is the law and it has been placed into effect for the protection of the various species in need of specific protection.

If you do not like it go vote and also lobby your state or the federal legislature..Whining about it here is not changing it if you feel so strongly about it.

There is no need to discuss validity in this, only state what laws are relivent to what state..


With the thought that this is the law and NANFA supports collecting with in the law.  We as members should promote and be examples of upholding the law.  
With this said I do think that there could be some discussion on different conservation laws, there validity, effecitivness and authoritive strength.  But we should do this in a productive way!!!!!!!!

There are many ways that we can keep our children interested in nature and still teach them to uphold the law.  I have 10 year old daughter who loves collecting rocks and looking under rocks to see what she can find, but I do not let her collect bivalves.  I explain to her why and she is ok with this, she just looks for something else.

We can always take pictures of things that we are interested in them.
Matthew Smith
ODNR Scenic Rivers
www.dnr.state.oh.us

#10 factnfiction101

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Posted 21 July 2007 - 10:13 PM

Most people know not to take live mussels where I live, but I had no idea that there is a market for old shells. I've took a few for decoration in the past for my tank. I plan on telling people not do bother old mussel shells.
Where I live you can go out in the river and old shells and live mussels are all over the place. We have some almost the size of a rear view mirror.
I guess one advantage for mussels having old shells around it is that they blend in, and some fish that eat them might not find them.

#11 ashtonmj

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Posted 22 July 2007 - 07:51 AM

Getting back to the first post. In Tennnessee DO NOT take shells from dead mussels.  TWRA is especially on the lookout now for people taking mussels within the last week or so they had a sting on a group of illegals that had been poaching live mussels from the Duck River to eat.  That is on top of the black market that exists out on west TN because of the commercial harvesting on Kentucky Lake.

And this is the exact reason why I kept wallet sized versions of my permits, kept a copy of each in my vehicle, and have about 3 other copies of each along with all origionals.
Matt Ashton
Chesapeake Bay
Baltimore, MD

#12 fundulus

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Posted 22 July 2007 - 08:11 AM

View Postashtonmj, on Jul 22 2007, 05:51 AM, said:

And this is the exact reason why I kept wallet sized versions of my permits, kept a copy of each in my vehicle, and have about 3 other copies of each along with all origionals.

Word.
Bruce Stallsmith, Huntsville, Alabama, US of A

#13 ashtonmj

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Posted 22 July 2007 - 12:15 PM

Kudos to AL for making them wallet sized in the first place.  It's a pain in the ass to shrink an 8.5 x 11 down to something that can fit in a wallet or wearable around my neck in the field.
Matt Ashton
Chesapeake Bay
Baltimore, MD

#14 RIVERRUNNER

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 12:30 PM

HooooWeeee!
Great talk y'all!

Now I completely understand that mussel shells are only legal in their home waters, pretty much undisturbed. And now I know why. That's why I'm here, to learn and abide. I'm not one to try to change Law, only know & understand some of it.

The only info I found at TWRA site was about permitting commercial fishermen to collect live mussels.

If the comment about the "converted" refers to "environmentalist whakos", I'm well on my way to conversion. The guys at work are always accusing me of being a tree-hugging nutjob, which I am fine with. And "too many people" period, or too many people nosing around wildlife?

-Shellshocked.

#15 fundulus

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 02:15 PM

I'd choose the option, "Too many people, period". We leave a big footprint, both individually and collectively.
Bruce Stallsmith, Huntsville, Alabama, US of A

#16 RIVERRUNNER

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 02:27 PM

Agreed.

#17 ashtonmj

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 07:11 PM

Unfortunately the TWRA website can be a bit tricky to navigate and when you open the PDF version of the regulations it takes forever to look through it.  When in doubt, call your region, and you have one of the best (Region 4).
Matt Ashton
Chesapeake Bay
Baltimore, MD

#18 iturnrocks

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 11:01 PM

I havent had a chance to read this whole post, but I wanted to share some photos from a few years back.

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

I cant remember for sure the names of these, but heres my guesses.  Someone identified them for me a few years ago.  The last year it was legal to collect them in Kansas.

Posted Image

Pistolgrip mussel
Posted Image

Fragile Papershell
Posted Image

Mapleleaf.... I think
Posted Image

#19 fundulus

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 10:04 AM

I'm inclined to agree with your ID of mapleleaf, it's at least some Quadrula species (does the monkeyface go that far west? I forget off the top of my head...).
Bruce Stallsmith, Huntsville, Alabama, US of A

#20 iturnrocks

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 10:24 AM

View Postfundulus, on Jul 24 2007, 10:04 AM, said:

(does the monkeyface go that far west?)

Kansas Commercial Mussel Collecting
...The following listed mussel species may be taken for
commercial purposes...

(1) Threeridge, Amblema plicata;
(2) monkeyface, Quadrula metanevra;
(3) mapleleaf, Quadrula quadrula;
(4) bleufer (purple shell), Potamilus purpuratus; and
(5) Asian clam, Corbicula fluminea.

(b) The season for the commercial harvest of mussels shall be on and after April 1
through September 30.

(4) The minimum shell size for mussel species shall be the following:
(A) Threeridge: 3 inch diameter;
(B) monkeyface: 2 3/4 inch diameter;
© mapleleaf and bleufer: 3 inch diameter; and
(D) Asian clam: no minimum size.
(d) There shall be no maximum daily or possession limits for mussels.

(1) The minimum size of mussels shall be measured by passing the mussel shell through
a circular measuring device with the appropriate inside diameter.
(2) Measurement shall occur immediately upon removal of the mussel from the water.
(3) If the mussel passes through the appropriate circular measuring device from any angle
or direction, the mussel shall not be deemed to meet the minimum size requirement and shall be
immediately returned to the water.


I guess I spoke too soon on whether or not collecting is still allowed.



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