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.