September 17, 2003
Part of the Service action is in response to appeals from 25 Members of Congress who represent districts near the Great Lakes, which has a $4 billion fishery at stake, and 10 state conservation and other organizations that favor the bighead carp's listing. The same inquiry was initiated for the silver carp on July 23, 2003.
Bighead carp are already established in the Mississippi River basin. Biologists are concerned that the fish could slip through a manmade canal into the Great Lakes, where the voracious eaters would threaten the food supply available to native fish. Great Lakes fisheries already are struggling against other invasive species, including the sea lamprey, round goby and Zebra mussel, among others.
If the bighead carp were placed on the injurious species list, it would be illegal to move them across state lines or to import them into the United States without a permit from the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Bighead carp have been used by catfish farmers because they feed on phytoplankton, zooplankton and detritus that they filter out of the water.
Bighead carp were imported into the U.S. in 1973 and stocked for phytoplankton control and as a food fish. By the mid-1970s, carp were being raised at six federal, state, and private facilities and had been stocked in municipal sewage lagoons. Silver carp have been recorded in 12 states.
Comments on the notice of inquiry, published in today's Federal Register, must be submitted within 60 days by mail, to: Chief, Division of Environmental Quality, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 322, Arlington, Virginia, 22203; or transmitted to the same address via fax at 703-358-1800; or comments may be sent by e-mail to: email@example.com. Public comment will be evaluated after the 60-day cutoff and biologists will determine if bighead carp warrant listing as injurious wildlife.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses 542 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
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