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Bighead Carp in Florida, Pt. II

Bob Wattendorf, of the FWC Freshwater Fisheries division, responds to the news item we posted last week, about angler Craig Martin's bighead carp caught near Destin, Florida:

"One thing to note is we have observed a few large individual bigheads in panhandle rivers for several years—but no reproduction.  They seem to be escapees from fish farms further north.  Several past hurricanes have caused some of those farms to release fish.  Here's a brief note that was provided to me recently:

 (Boschung & Mayden 2004). 

The Bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis) is native to large river systems of eastern China and has been introduced into at least 32 countries since 1949 as a food fish.  It is believed to have first been brought into the United States, along with the silver carp (H. molitrix), in 1972 and reared in Alabama in farm fish ponds from which they have commonly escaped, been sold to the public etc.  They're reproduction has not been documented in Alabama or Florida waters, but it is believed their impact on native fish populations would be like that described of silver carp in northern US rivers.

Because of their tolerance of brackish waters, the delta areas of our coastal rivers would appear to be prime habitat for both bighead and silver carp.  Both of these species are prohibited under our regulations (see below).  If one is caught the same rule that prohibits release of any nonnative fish (other than peacock bass and triploid grass carp) applies, and they should not be released. We encourage placing any other nonnative fish on ice and consuming or disposing of them properly.

Both species are plankton and algae eaters by filtering the water but I imagine will take a piece of wiggler similar to how grass carp are sometimes caught or in a reaction/irritation bite.

68-5.002 Conditional Non-native Species.

Live specimens of the following species, including their taxonomic successors, subspecies, or hybrids or eggs thereof may be possessed only pursuant to permit issued by the Executive Director except as provided in subsection 68-5.001(3), F.A.C.

(1) Non-native freshwater fish and aquatic invertebrate species.

(a) Bighead carp (Aristichthys nobilis).

(b) Bony-tongue fishes (Family Arapaimidae).

1. Arapaima (Arapaima gigas).

2. Heterotis (Heterotis niloticus).

(c) Dorados (Genus Salminus, all species).

(d) Freshwater stingrays (Family Potamotrygonidae, all species).

(e) Grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella), with restrictions as provided in Rule 68A-23.088, F.A.C.

(f) Silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix).

(g) Snail or black carp (Mylopharyngodon piceus).

(h) Nile perches (Genus Lates, all species). For owners of aquaculture facilities that are operating under permit or a certificate of registration, but which are not cultivating Nile perches as of April 11, 2007, and for owners of aquaculture facilities which are issued original permits or certificates of registration after April 11, 2007, Nile perches:

1. Shall be held only in indoor facilities.

2. Shall not be taken on a fee or for-hire basis using hook and line or rod and reel.

(i) Blue tilapia (Oreochromis aureus), except that Oreochromis aureus may be possessed, cultured, and transported without permit in Citrus County in the North Central Region; and all counties of the Northeast, South and Southwest Regions.

(j) Wami tilapia (Oreochromis urolepis).

(k) Mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus)

(l) Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus)

(m) Walking catfish (Clarias batrachus)

(n) Blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus), except that blue catfish may be possessed in the Suwannee River and its tributaries and north and west of the Suwannee River.

(o) Australian red claw crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus) only in closed tank culture systems.

(p) Red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) and white river crayfish (Procambarus zonangulas)

1. Pond aquaculture of either species is prohibited.

2. Red swamp crayfish and white river crayfish may be possessed west of the Apalachicola River and its tributaries or imported for direct sale to food wholesalers and food retailers for resale to consumers without permit.

(q) Arowanas (Family Osteoglossidae, all species except silver arowana, Osteoglossum bicirrhosum).

(r) Northern largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides salmoides), except that intergrade largemouth bass (northern largemouth bass x Florida largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides floridanus) may be possessed in the Suwannee River and its tributaries and north and west of the Suwannee River.

(2) Non-native mammals – Nutria (Myocaster coypus).

(3) Non-native turtles. Red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans): red-eared sliders may be possessed only by permitted individuals or commercial import or export businesses according to the provisions of paragraph 68-5.001(3)(d), F.A.C., except as provided below:

(a) Red-eared sliders in personal possession prior to July 1, 2007 may continue in the possession of the owner without a permit, except that red-eared sliders less than four inches carapace length may not be possessed after July 1, 2008 without a permit.

(b) Red-eared sliders with distinctive aberrant color patterns, including albino or amelanistic specimens, may be possessed without a permit otherwise required by this rule.

(4) Non-native Snakes and lizards: The following species possessed for personal use by reptile of concern license holders prior to July 1, 2010 may continue in the possession of the owner for the life of the animal. A valid license to possess these animals must be maintained pursuant to Section 379.372, F.S.

(a) Indian or Burmese python (Python molurus)

(b) Reticulated python (Python reticulatus)

(c) Northern African python (Python sebae)

(d) Southern African python (Python natalensis)

(e) Amethystine python (Morelia amethistinus)

(f) Scrub python (Morelia kinghorni)

(g) Green anaconda (Eunectes murinus)

(h) Nile monitor (Varanus niloticus).

Rulemaking Authority Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. Law Implemented Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. History–New 6-7-07, Amended 7-1-10, 8-23-10.

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