Importation and interstate transport of live silver and largescale silver carp will be banned under a final rule published in todays Federal Register by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A petition to the Service signed by 25 Members of Congress outlined the impacts of silver carp to humans and native aquatic species in waters of the United States. The final rule--advanced under the injurious wildlife provisions of the Lacey Act--addresses these concerns and will become effective on August 9, 2007.
"Slowing the spread of these carp is necessary to protect our native aquatic species," said H. Dale Hall, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "Although silver carp are established in parts of the Mississippi watershed, we will work to keep their impacts minimized and prevent additional populations from taking hold."
Silver carp, native to Asia, were introduced in the United States in the early 1970s for use as algae control agents in sewage lagoons and fishery production ponds, but escaped into surrounding waters. The silver carp have established themselves in the Mississippi River Basin but are not currently cultured in the United States. Silver carp are difficult to handle and transport because of their tendency to jump: growing up to three feet long and 60 pounds in weight, silver carp have leaped into moving boats injuring people and damaging equipment.
Biologists are concerned that silver carp could spread throughout large rivers and lakes in the U.S. and compete with native species for food and habitat, having both ecological and economic impacts and threatening, for example, the multimillion-dollar Great Lakes fishery.
Largescale silver carp, native to parts of China and Vietnam, are a distinct species related to the silver carp and warrant prohibition as well. While not yet known to be in the U.S., largescale silver carp could also directly compete with native aquatic species for food and habitat and may hybridize with silver and bighead carp, both of which are already in U.S. waters.
Documents are available at: http://www.fws.gov/contaminants/ANS/ANSInjurious.cfm#Silver
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