Silver and large-scale silver carp subject of proposed rule by Fish and Wildlife Service

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Importation and interstate transport of live silver and large-scale silver carp would be banned under a proposed rule published in the Federal Register by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

A petition to the Service, signed by 25 members of Congress, outlined impacts of silver carp to humans and native species in waters of the United States. The proposed rule—advanced under the injurious wildlife provisions of the Lacey Act—addresses these concerns.

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 carp have established themselves in the Mississippi River Basin but are not currently cultured in the U.S. Silver carp are difficult to handle and transport because of their tendency to jump: growing up to 3 feet long and 60 pounds in weight, silver carp have leaped into moving boats, injuring people and damaging equipment.

Biologists are concerned the silver carp could spread throughout the U.S. and compete with native species for food and habitat. For example, the carp could threaten the multimillion-dollar Great Lakes fishery by competing with native fish for food.

Large-scale 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., large-scale silver carp could compete with native species for food and habitat and may hybridize with silver and bighead carp, both of which are already in U.S. waters.

Public comment on the proposal will remain open for 60 days. Documents are available at, the web page for the Division of Environmental Quality. (See the Federal Register notice, at, for instructions and deadlines for public comments).

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 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 81 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 Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

From the Nov. 15-21, 2006, issue

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