Importing live silver carp into the United States or transporting the invasive species across state lines will be illegal later this summer.
The rule, to take effect Aug. 9, was listed in the Federal Register by the U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Service on Tuesday as an attempt to control the spread of the ecologically damaging species into other waters.
“The ban on silver carp is needed to slow their spread and protect native aquatic species,” said H. Dale Hall, U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Service director.
Silver carp were rare in the Missouri River until 2000 but by 2007 had exploded in population, said Duane Chapman, a research fish biologist with the Columbia Environmental Research Center.
He urges local fisherman to be aware of how the new rule could affect them.
“If you fish with live bait or catch your own, it’s always a good idea to only use those fish in the same body of water in which you caught them,” Chapman said. “If you accidentally or intentionally get silver carp in your bait bucket and transfer it across state lines, you would be violating a federal law.”
Silver carp became a part of the aquaculture industry in the early 1970s when they were brought into the United States as a way to control algae in fishery production ponds and sewage lagoons.
Chapman said the ban will not have any impact on the aquaculture industry.
“There hasn’t been a silver carp in United States aquaculture for 20 years,” Chapman said. “The economic impact of this particular listing will be zero.”
Bart Hawcroft, an aquaculture specialist with the Missouri Department of Agriculture, supports that notion.
“In terms of silver carp we have no one raising them in Missouri,” Hawcroft said. “The impact will be minimal.”
While this ban only applies to silver carp and large-scale silver carp, a faster growing, more temperature tolerant carp that has not yet been introduced to the United States, the question of whether the ban should include other species, such as bighead and black carp, has been debated since it was petitioned by members of Congress representing the Great Lakes in October 2002.
“Listing bighead carp has been very controversial because there are people who make money using the live fish transport, and they don’t want to see that particular source of income disappear,” Chapman said. “The debate has been going on for a very long time.”
Paula Moore, a staff biologist at Jones and Eaker Farms in Neelyville and a member of the Asian Carp Working Group, is among the opposition.
“They will try to make it inclusive. We’re doing our very best to make them look at it by species,” Moore said.
The new listing will not affect local experimentation with silver carp as food for zoo animals and pets, as those silver carp are not transported live, Chapman said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.