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Thanks for the Feds!

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by aquabillpers, Feb 4, 2009.

  1. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    As i sit here in lovely SE Pennsylvania, USA, where the temperature is well below freezing and has been for most of the last two weeks, and where the lakes and some of the steams are frozen over, I give thanks for our all-knowing, one-size-fits-all Federal Government for making it impossible for me to buy such great plants as Hygrophila polysperma because they might become invasive and cause the same problems here that have occurred in tropical climates.

    We are so lucky!

    Bill
     
  2. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    OTOH, said government also dropped the ball when it came to the whole snakehead invading the Potomic river bit. I could also respectfully point out zebra mussels, fire ants, or the asian long horn beetle current ransacking central massachusetts. Given the overall havoc things like these cause, I'm willing to cut the government some slack on stuff like that.

    Things that "should" be fine and "shouldn't" cause an issue, or "should" die off in the cold, or "shouldn't" proliferate like mad and choke/consume the local ecosystem often have a way of proving otherwise. I feel that anyone caught releasing a foreign species into the wild should spend the rest of their lives at minimum wage going out and culling the results of their carelessness or willful stupidity until they've exterminated it. Doubly so if it turns out to be extremely destructive and/or dangerous. Of course that pretty much means any farmer or gardener since crops and plants grow wherever they want and do so all the time. So one needs to be a little cautious in how you define destructive, dangerous, or foreign.

    Can't really win either way in that regard in this hobby. Pretty much anything you have "could" run amok in the local ecosystem and that just boils down to people being responsible in what they do with their fish and plants. Up until recently I didn't know the amazon swords could grow emersed and have just tossed entire plants into the compost pile assuming they'd dry up and die since they were "aquarium" plants. It "should" be fine and the winter snow "should" kill them. I at least cut them up now before tossing them.

    Last I checked there were no swords taking over the back yard, but still... :)

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    S
     
  3. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    i would like to see just a little common sense

    The species that you have mentioned are cold water species and arguably should be banned in colder climates, although once the initial burst of publicity is over none of them cause any long term harm, just another adjustment for the ecosystem to make.

    Zebra mussels in the Great Lakes, for example, are being out-competed by quagga mussels, another invasive, and both of them are being eaten by the European goby, a third one.

    Using your logic, I think a case could be made for banning the export from the Florida plant farms to other states, of all plants which grow in the wild in Florida. A similar argument could be made against most fish.

    The domestic goldfish lives in the wild in every state in the Union. Should it be banned also?

    I think government regulation should be applied where necessary, to avoid a known or strongly probable bad outcome. It should never be used "just to play it safe" or because some pressure group would use the regulations to further their own agenda, as we are seeing now in this country.

    I hope we come to our senses before my remaining hygro dies. :)

    Bill
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Here's why they banned it: welcome to the Santa Fe river, FL:

    Miles and miles of of it:

    [​IMG]

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    We live in a big place with every type of habitat and the state's have trouble enforcing such laws, so they do not risk it, they ban them all. ND has a far different climate than FL. But............if some got to ND, then folks would keep it and send/ship to FL eventually, same deal with Piranha, but Fish and Game are bit better and it's harder to ship live fish.

    If folks where responsible and civil, you would not need laws.
    But many are not.

    There in lies the risk and why they ban these things, the risk to fish and wildlife, navigation, water conveyance, flood control, are massive. It's not done to pester a few aquatic plant folks;)

    I agree about the import from states, but they weigh that against economic factors like nursery sales, plant farms selling this stuff, their lobbyists groups.
    "We need jobs".

    You know..........there are trade offs for every environmental impact us humans do. If preservation of the resources is a goal, population control is where it all starts. That and restoration and control/eradication of invasive species.



    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  6. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Agreed. Common sense is lacking. Unfortunately it's much easier, and potentially safer, to use a blanket "thou shalt not" and then have a fight for the exception than it is to deal with an "oh crap".

    From a strictly ecological standpoint, yes. ALL non native species should be banned from transport. That's neither practical nor sane at this point and not really what I was advocating. I was simply pointing out that you almost always have a problem with non native species. If you're lucky it's a short fight and everything settles down pretty quickly or it's relatively harmless like all those purple flowers you see in the wetlands. You can point to ornamental flowers, crops, livestock ( contained ) and bunches of other stuff like that for the good. You need only point out cane toads, cats, pigs, goats, numerous ant species, nile perch and things like those on Australia, Galapagos, Christmas Island and Africa for the bad.

    The problem with regulation to avoid a probable bad outcome is that by the time you figure out that it's probably bad it's usually already too late to do anything about it. Common sense would say "Hey, this type of Bee gets REALLY pissed off easily and the whole hive goes REALLY nuts and attacks EVERYTHING so we should really just leave them over there" and not "hey, they make a little more honey so we'll import them and hopefully find a way to breed them and make them less cranky". Other less stupid ideas include the "it eats that pest over there which kind of looks like this one so we'll have it do the same here" finding out that "it only ate the pest over there because that's all that was there to eat and EVERYTHING here is apparently more tasty so it doesn't eat the pest we brought it here for and it's much worse than the original pest". It only takes a few stupid ideas like that to get the ban everything approach implemented since it's much simpler and arguably safer. Exceptions abound like the imported dung beetle for New York to clean up the dog poo. So far that one hasn't seemed to cause too many noticeable issues.

    So I guess the question is has the species you're looking at ever been invasive? If yes, then there are known bad outcomes and it should be regulated. If no, then maybe it's not a problem. Regulated doesn't have to equal banned, but usually regulated means some pretty stiff hoops to jump through which doesn't necessarily mean you can get it anyway. Known bad outcomes don't even have to apply remotely to your circumstances just that it was "bad" somewhere. Politicians love to grandstand and look like they're doing SOMETHING useful.

    You may be the epitome of responsibility. Nothing leaves your fish room unless it's dead or secured. No one can come in and steal it ( for whatever reason ). Something as stupid as a once in a lifetime flood would be all it takes and now your heavily regulated, used only for research, breeds faster than bunnies, mated pair of sparkly Ukrainian Rainbow Unicorn Carp of Death are now loose in the river systems. Unfortunately only the blanket ban on stuff like that "might" prevent that and I see the point behind them.

    In all reality it just means that people who aren't out to cause issues and won't do something as stupid as releasing snakeheads into the local river get nothing but stupid "Thou Shalt Not" laws that aren't going to prevent that stupidity in the first place. If people want it, they're going to get it and they're going to do whatever they want to when they do. And they're probably going to be more spiteful about it when they do.

    Then of course there's the stuff that no one deliberately caused as such, like the explosion of jellyfish populations or the Humboldts invading the west coast waters. Ever wonder what happens when you wipe out all the major predators because they're tasty?

    I do wish you luck with your Hygro. Maybe there's a way for you to get some more for "research" or even "medicinal" use? :D

    -
    S
     
  7. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    I wonder if hygro can be shown to have medicinal benefits?

    I know that when I sit in front of an aquarium in which the long green stalks sway gracefully in the current, I feel more mellow.

    While that feeling can be enhanced by other substances, nonetheless I feel that the hygro plays a part, and I truly appreciate your suggestion.

    I'll contact my representative in Congress. :)

    Bill
     
  8. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    Actually, it appears that the stretch of the river that is in the picture would otherwise be devoid of aquatic plants if it wasn't for the hygro.

    I suspect that there is a significant difference between the Santa Fe River today and our Schuykill River. The temperature of the latter tracks atmospheric temperatures fairly closely. Today it is in the 30's with ice in some places. I wish hygro would grow in it.

    Bill
     
  9. nelumbo74

    nelumbo74 Junior Poster

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    no. the hygro probably displaced the native species in that river by crowding them and over-competing. what people don't realize is that banning hygro polysperma is a small price to pay for our hobby. however, by continuing to trade h. polysperma on other web forums, our hobby stands to face additional, more severe restrictions in the very near future. trust me, the usda watches these sites, and there are other plants in trade that are already rank 1 or rank 2 invasives, but aren't YET banned (i.e. arthraxon "malaysia", which is actually arthraxon cuspida, commonly called carpgrass).

    we can't depend on all hobbyists disposing of plants properly, so we must trust that hobbyists act responsibly by not obtaining this plant at all.

    i think the greatest shame is that you can't see the overall big picture, which just gives our hobby a bad wrap.
     
  10. nelumbo74

    nelumbo74 Junior Poster

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    the northern snakehead (channa argus) is not a cold water species. in fact, it comes from tropical asia and wasn't expected to make it as far north in the u.s as it has already.

    unfortunately, if the rules were left up to hobbyists like you, we wouldn't have any native plants left. shame.
     
  11. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Hydrilla is found near DC, but is often called a warm water weed.
    It's here in Clear lake(which ain't too clear) and the focus on my research.

    Aggressive weeds displace native plants, but also, and importantly, they do not provide food and habitat for native species of fish and inverts.


    In some systems, non native weeds can increase fish production.
    Others, lower it if the % area coverage is too great.

    No O2.

    So they can be good and bad, oranmental horticulture and landscape plants are non natives generally. There is a trend to more natives and easier to care for plants that match the habitat you live.

    So things are changing slowly.

    The American River right where I live is full of Elodea and Eurasian milfoil and Crispy pondweed. The Elodea is native at least...........

    None of these should be there though in any significant amounts however.
    But since water stabilization and flood control has been done, we provide excellent habitats for non native weeds to flourish and take over.
    Large seasonal floods wash these weeds out in nature.

    Most crops are non natives and very weedy:p

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  12. jtparsons

    jtparsons Prolific Poster

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    Im not sure I can add much to this discussion from ecologist's standpoint, however I am one of those "feds" who enforces customs laws on the Wa state Canadian border and have also done so in Florida and Hawaii. These regulations that get enforced in many areas of the law often seem arbitrary and stupid to people, but when you look at the big picture it makes some sense. Firsly these laws have to be written and enforced with the "lowest common denominator" in mind. Is anyone with half a brain going to dump the contents of there planted aquarium into the nearest stream? No, especialy edjucated and intelligent hobbiest/professions wich seem to be the norm on this site. The reality is anybody can walk into the LFS or log onto arizona aquatics and purchase any number of fish and plant species from all over the world and do as they please. Listen to some of the conversations that go on with the average customer in the LFS and you will see what I mean about the lowest common denominater. The plants we choose to grow in our tanks and in agriculture have a funny way of doing things and living in places we dont expect. I have found Plecostumus, angel fish, and tetras in streams in Hawaii that are only supposed to have three types of gobies. Other experts can evaluate these ecological impacts in detail, but as far as Im concerned. I used to fly fish many buetiful trout streams in SE Pa so if I see any shipping/cargo manifest with live goods posted on them Im going to be damn sure I give them a close inspection. Its not such a big deal to not have a certain plant here and there if its going to possibly make a difference. Tom stated that population was the biggest problem, and I agree. Unfortunatly things change slowely, and in america the only way things change is with litigation and laws. Lastly we should get any grand ideas as our hobby is actually kinda ecologically irrisponsible.
    Respectfully -Jon USCG
     
  13. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    Nelumbo, Channa argus is a native of Korea, Russia, and China, hardly tropical climes. It does seem to have established itself in the USA, but after the media-generated hysteria when it was first encountered, it doesn't seem to have attracted much interest nor caused any ecological disasters.

    Really? Our lakes up here would be filled with hygro, swords, and crypts? There wouldn't be any more water lilles and native aquatic grasses? We'd have cichlids living among them instead of sunfish? Gee. :)

    Bill
     
  14. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    A native plant can also be harmful to an ecosystem, by being so successful that it crowds out all other species.

    I lived for a while on a limestone brook near Harrisburg, PA, where the dominant plant was a species of elodea. In the summer it almost filled the stream except for a channel in the middle. It crowded out all other plants. It provided excellentt cover for the native trout and the small crustaceans that was their primary food.

    Interesting to me, the regular fishermen there referred to it by its formal name, elodea, rather than by its then-popular name, anacharis.

    Bill
     
  15. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    Hi, Jon,

    Without addressing your point about regulations being aimed at "the lowest common denominator" persons (and a lot could be said to that point!) :) I want to remind you that when you fished the beautiful trout streams of SE Pennsylvania, your quarry was almost certainly the brown trout, Salmo trutta. These fish are native to northern Europe and were first introduced to this country around 1890.

    At that time, the native trout, the eastern brook trout, Salvelinus fontinalis, was slowly disappearing from its native waters for environmental reasons. The brown trout could prosper in waters that were too warm for the brook trout. It out-competed the remaining brook trout, which are now pretty much confined to headwater environments.

    Without the brown trout, trout fishing on Pennsylvania and other states would be severely limited or non-existant.

    Interestingly, the brook trout, which is Pennsylvania's state fish, has been declared an invasive species in some of the western states, where it is out-competing and possibly interbreeding with the native cutthroat trout.

    Good luck!

    Bill
     
  16. jtparsons

    jtparsons Prolific Poster

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    Right, so..... thats my point? Keep the plants and animals where they belong the best we can, because in hind site it was a bad idea to intruce brownies into the rivers on the east coast and a bad idea to intruduce the brown's and rainbows on the west coast. It seemd like no big idea at the time. What will people say in 50 years about our aquarium plants. Humans arent smart enouph to screw with nature.
     
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