RE: NANFA-- Olympic Mudminnows???

Jay DeLong (
Fri, 26 Nov 1999 15:06:31 -0800

Shireen, that's really not always the case. At the NANFA convention, a
representative from Illinois DNR was invited to talk about regulations on
collecting fish in his state. It was obvious to everyone there, including
the DNR guy, that the laws were ludicrous. They were written in another
era. Even today you see terms like "rough fish" and "bait fish" that are
holdovers from a past era. These terms were developed to manage fish for
harvest (e.g., rough fish vs. game fish) and not to protect the fish
themselves. Fish have historically been treated as a harvestable resource.
I shared a specific example of the Olympic mudminnow to illustrate a real
life situation. State DNRs do not have the mandate to protect species the
same way the USFWS does. There are many cases where a species clearly in
need of protection doesn't receive it until the USFWS makes some noise that
they'll do it. Or a state will declare a species threatened or endangered,
yet fail to protect it from development or other human impacts. Or they
protect all fish from being collected for home aquaria to make managemnent
less complicated, like in my state.

In some states, laws that make it on the books stay on the books if they
aren't challenged or if they don't cause any problems. An example I recall
from the Illinois regs talk was that it is legal to collect a bowfin for
home aquaria providing the collecting gear is a gaff or bow and arrow. And
someone else help me with this if I'm wrong-- I think I remember that in
Illinois, darters are considered a game fish because the term "percid" was
used on the books to describe yellow perch, walleyes, etc. But darters
aren't listed in the fishing regulations, so legally they aren't a
harvestable game fish, but they aren't included in the bait fish regulations
because they are percids, so therefore can't legally be collected, even
though some darters are much more common that some of the "bait fish" which
are easily collected.

So if we don't compliment state regulators, it's because they're supposed to
know more than the general public, and they are supposed to do a good job.
It's what we pay taxes for. I never go into my grocery store and compliment
the employees for stocking the shelves so nicely, but I'm going to complain
if they do it wrong! :-)

I sure agree with Shireen about how some people treat the federal
government. Next time you hear someone complain about "big government"
remind them how the Endangered Species Act has saved many "little fish".

Jay DeLong
Olympia, WA

-----Original Message-----
From: On Behalf
Of Shireen Gonzaga
Sent: Friday, November 26, 1999 1:25 PM
Subject: Re: FW: NANFA-- Olympic Mudminnows???

someone said:
> These laws apply to all wildlife in
> the state. No one ever said that nongame fish specifically could
> be removed from the state. But they got lumped in with bighorn sheep
> and bald eagles and such, and the laws have stayed on the books for
> The people at WDFW are not open to discussion on it. Or rather, the
> people who are sympathetic don't have any clout. Hopefully with time
> things will change.

someone else said:
> Maybe the only way to get things changed is for native fish
> to join forces with reptile hobbyists, aviculturalisats and others to
> legislative changes and simply go over the heads of the wildlife
people if
> they are not open to discussion. Unless we now live in a totalitarian
> these agencies must still comply with the rulings of an elected

These wildlife agencies are not made of arrogant dolts who routinely defy
common sense. State and federal wildlife agencies, along with all agencies
that produce intangible long-term benefits, are chronically underfunded and
politically under-represented. So if they have policies that don't make
well, that makes sense.

Almost everytime these government and state agencies are mentioned on this
list, it always seems to be in bash mode. I guess few notice the good works
they do. Having volunteered at a wildlife refuge, and having had a chance to
follow some mid-Atlantic states trying to work together on a particular
fisheries issue, I've come away feeling sympathetic towards these agencies.
Sure, there are some bizarre regulations out there, and some of these folks
don't have the best of people skills. So they piss you off. But look at the
big picture. On the whole, they're doing pretty good.

By all means, *do* lobby your legislators. But when doing so, don't forget
to praise the good work that has already been done by these agencies. They
need our support as well as our criticism.

- shireen

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