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Message started by Aaron Smalls on Sep 22nd, 2021 at 11:04am

Title: Questions/Discussion About Importing Fish and Eggs
Post by Aaron Smalls on Sep 22nd, 2021 at 11:04am
This post is not meant to be a discussion on skirting or breaking federal, state, or international laws.

I've started collecting a couple species but I'm really getting into Nothos more and more. It seems like there just isn't the variety in the states as what I see in European other other international groups. I understand that in order to legally obtain eggs from overseas you must have an import/export license, and declare with USFWS.  As a somewhat newer person to national fish clubs I'm surprised the stance taken by most groups regarding obtaining fish is "know the laws that apply to you and your state and proceed accordingly." I don't quite understand this stance.  While I understand it may reduce legal obligation to the national organization I think it promotes hobbyists flouting regulations at the same time.  Obviously none of us want to open the AKA to any legal problems.

So what can be done?  It seems obvious to me that the club, or some committee should obtain the necessary permits and licensing to properly import fish and eggs from international sources, and import them for its members.  Whether it's actually that simple may just be a naive assumption. 

I'm sure I'm not the first person to suggest this, but I'm really interested in why this isn't already a thing. Has it been explored and just didn't work? Not enough support from the membership? Too costly? For what it's worth, I'd be interested in working on something that might make species more available to U.S. Hobbyists.

Thanks for your time.

Title: Re: Questions/Discussion About Importing Fish and Eggs
Post by Keith Cook on Oct 14th, 2021 at 7:18pm
Hi Aaron,

Some of our members are familiar with the procedures for making large importations, but are less familiar with how to proceed with small parcels. A couple of suggestions that have been brought up are making a bunch of small parcels into a large import by coordinating a shipment with a large-ish number of members. Another possibility is to use someone who acts as a trans-shipper. Other groups, I'm thinking bettas here, use them. I don't personally know how that works. I wonder if we could use existing trans-shippers or if we should get a few members around the country to serve as trans-shippers. My current limited understanding of the process leads me to believe that this is the way to go, and I would certainly appreciate any input you could provide on the issue. 


Title: Re: Questions/Discussion About Importing Fish and Eggs
Post by Keith Cook on Oct 14th, 2021 at 7:19pm
Feel free to email me directly.


Title: Re: Questions/Discussion About Importing Fish and Eggs
Post by Pat Kapsner on Feb 26th, 2023 at 5:58am
Even though it's an old thread I found it most interesting. Just recently I ran afoul of USFWS when they seized my shipment of six species' eggs (still not resolved), but the USFWS Inspector I'm dealing with walked me completely through it, and it turns out to be not so difficult at all.

Importation of tropical or ornamental fish or their eggs in non commercial quantities is not prohibited unless they are on the endangered species list or vulnerable to either of two diseases that only affect carp or tilapia. No importer's license is needed.

If you're bringing in ANY fish or eggs you'll need to fill out and submit USFWS Fo0rm 3-177 either by mail (takes a while to process) or you can join the eDecs (Electronic Declarations) system ( and then you can submit online which should get almost immediate clearance. Instructions for filling out this form, including all the codes you'll have to use, can be found on the bottom portion of the form itself.


Title: Re: Questions/Discussion About Importing Fish and Eggs
Post by Tyrone Genade on Feb 27th, 2023 at 10:43am
Pat, can you please elaborate on what they told you about " non commercial quantities" because when I last I corresponded with them that 7 or more of anything and they regarded 1 egg as 1 fish. And it wasn't as if you are allowed 6 of this and 6 of that... it was 7 or less total items.

Title: Re: Questions/Discussion About Importing Fish and Eggs
Post by Pat Kapsner on Feb 27th, 2023 at 11:12am
The USFWS Inspector didn't mention any specific quantity needed to make it commercial, but this morning when I last talked to him he did say (and this was disconcerting) that anyone who sells OR SWAPS any fish or fish eggs and they find out about it is declared a commercial importer and needs a license. Another  upsetting item he mentioned is that, because it concerns wildlife an import fee of about $95.00 is charged by USFWS for each species brought in.

As I get more info I'll pass it on here. Pretty sure I'll be finding out more since, based only on the conversations I've had with him he has identified me as a commercial importer in their data base based on what I consider his misunderstanding of the definition outlined in 50 CFR 14.4, which I'll be appealing.

Oh yeah, that shipment of mine that they'd seized is a lost cause. Since it was originally sent January 4th it's doubtful any of the eggs would be viable once I got them back in another two months, and so rather than further fight the bureaucracy I filed and abandonment declaration, bringing this to an end to this battle. I'm from the government and I'm here to help you, eh?

Title: Re: Questions/Discussion About Importing Fish and Eggs
Post by Pat Kapsner on Feb 28th, 2023 at 6:39pm
As if it couldn't get any better I found out that each of us bringing in an international shipment of fish or fish eggs is subject to a $93.00 inspection fee each time, and each shipment, even non commercial ones, must be inspected. See for more info, even though it's old it's still pertinent..

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