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Great Lakes Article:

State Senate passes bills to prohibit certain aquatic species
The Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. -- A pair of bills that would authorize penalties for the release of certain aquatic species received unanimous passage in the state Senate on Wednesday.

Under the legislation, if someone possessed or released a live, prohibited species, the violation would be a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, or both. The penalties also would include restitution for damage caused by the violation.

The species prohibited under the bills include bighead carp, bitterling, black carp, grass carp, ide, Japanese weatherfish, rudd, silver carp, tench and fish of the snakehead family. The prohibition would include the species' eggs or any hybrids of them.

Two other bills that also passed unanimously would prohibit someone from knowingly releasing a genetically engineered or nonnative fish without a permit from the state Department of Natural Resources. The bills now go to the House.

Invasions by foreign species are a growing concern in the Great Lakes and worldwide.

In February, the state DNR director signed an emergency order making it illegal to possess or transport live Asian bighead carp and snakehead fish in Michigan, though the exotic species have not been found in the state's waters.

Bighead and other species of carp native to Asia were brought to the United States in 1972 by an Arkansas fish farmer and became popular in the South. They escaped into the Mississippi River from their impoundments during the mid-1990s, the DNR said.

The fish can grow to 100 pounds or more and are voracious eaters of the plankton that is a major food source for many native species.

Last year, Maryland wildlife officials poisoned a 4-acre pond to kill more than 1,000 rapacious snakeheads -- predatory fanged fish from Asia that are able to move on land.

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