Clamping down on illegal grass carp sales in Indiana

Thanks to the proactive work of state and federal law enforcement
professionals, an Arkansas-based live fish distributor is no longer
illegally transporting and selling nonnative grass carp in Indiana.

Following complaints from concerned parties, conservation officers
within the investigation section of the Indiana Department of Natural
Resources worked closely with special agents within the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement to investigate and quickly
close this case. On February 27, 2017, Arkansas Pondstockers paid two
citations in federal court totalling $12,060.

_Why stock grass carp?_

For two decades Indiana has been enforcing regulations that allow people
to use grass carp as a biological control method [1] for aquatic
vegetation in man-made ponds. These regulations clearly outline how to
use grass carp as an alternative to chemical treatments in a way that
keeps these nonnative fish out of rivers and streams and away from
Indiana’s native fishery.

Even though sterile grass carp are a good alternative to chemical
treatments, they can harm our native fishery by damaging spawning areas
and other habitat. They can also outcompete native fish for food which
further impacts both the greater ecosystem and recreational
opportunities. To lessen the likelihood of these impacts, specific
safeguards were written into law. Indiana state law requires two permits
for the sale of grass carp, both a fish haulers’ permit to transport the
live fish and an aquaculture permit to sell grass carp. An important
aspect of state law is that fish haulers must deliver live grass carp to
the private ponds where the fish will live. The intent of this rule is
to keep grass carp out of the public waterways, where they could cause
problems for native fish.

Under state law, pond owners who wish to use this biological control
method are required to use professional fish stocking businesses that
only use certified sterile grass carp, known as triploid grass carp [2].
This ensures that these nonnative fish cannot reproduce if they are to
escape man-made ponds. In addition to these safeguards, the state
requires fish stocking businesses to report their activities so that
biologists can closely monitor the use of grass carp.

These state regulations don’t just benefit Indiana’s fishery,
they’re good for business. Using grass carp to control aquatic
vegetation is popular in Indiana and business can be competitive. With
between 25 to 30 dealers selling thousands of triploid grass carp
annually, dealers are motivated to keep each other operating within the
law. This ensures fair pricing and open competition.

_What makes this a federal case?_

We work collaboratively with state and tribal partners across the
country to support legal wildlife commerce and hunting opportunities for
American hunters, anglers and wildlife-related businesses. In this case,
Arkansas Pondstockers was out of compliance with both Indiana state law
and an overarching federal law that supports state-level wildlife
conservation. The Lacey Act [3], a federal conservation law which dates
back to 1900, protects fish, wildlife and plants both domestically and
internationally. Under the Lacey Act, it is unlawful to import, export,
sell, acquire, or purchase fish, wildlife or plants that are taken,
possessed, transported, or sold: 1) in violation of federal, state,
foreign or tribal law, or 2) in interstate or foreign commerce involving
any fish, wildlife, or plants taken possessed or sold in violation of
State or foreign law.

In this case, employees sold grass carp directly from their truck,
without transporting to a private pond. During the joint investigation,
we discovered that even though the business had obtained the required
permits in the past, they failed to have them at the time the violations
occurred and records show that they were out of compliance for several
months during 2016.

In addition to paying the federal citations, Arkansas Pondstockers’
most recent aquaculture permit application has been denied by Indiana
Department of Natural Resources. This means that the fish hauler will be
unable to legally sell triploid grass carp in Indiana for 2017.

Fighting against Asian carp is a collaborative effort. We work with
provincial, state, and other federal partners to monitor and control the
spread of bighead, silver, grass and black carps in our country’s

Learn more about Asian carp control and management: [4]

Learn how to identify the four species of Asian carp: [5]

_The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with
others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their
habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both
a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known
for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural
resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For
more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit
http://www.fws/gov. _

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