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Questions/Discussion About Importing Fish and Eggs (Read 3704 times)
Aaron Smalls
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Questions/Discussion About Importing Fish and Eggs
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.
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Keith Cook
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Re: Questions/Discussion About Importing Fish and Eggs
Reply #1 - 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. 

Keith
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Keith Cook
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Re: Questions/Discussion About Importing Fish and Eggs
Reply #2 - Oct 14th, 2021 at 7:19pm
 
Feel free to email me directly.

Keith
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Pat Kapsner
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Re: Questions/Discussion About Importing Fish and Eggs
Reply #3 - 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 (https://edecs.fws.gov/) 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.

Enjoy!
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Tyrone Genade
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Re: Questions/Discussion About Importing Fish and Eggs
Reply #4 - 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.
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Pat Kapsner
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Re: Questions/Discussion About Importing Fish and Eggs
Reply #5 - 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?
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Pat Kapsner
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Re: Questions/Discussion About Importing Fish and Eggs
Reply #6 - 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 https://www.fws.gov/story/2008-12/service-increases-inspection-fees-sets-new-req... for more info, even though it's old it's still pertinent..
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Pat Kapsner
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Re: Questions/Discussion About Importing Fish and Eggs
Reply #7 - Jun 18th, 2023 at 9:34pm
 
Tyrone Genade wrote 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.
Sorry I didn't cover this better previously. With the Inspector I was talking to (and if you do talk to one be very careful what you say as they are in the same category of Federal Law Enforcement as FBI, DEA, Secret Service ad nauseum) it seemed 7 was the magic number, although he couldn't tell me why. He just couldn't figure why anyone would need more than 10 Notho eggs, and he wouldn't listen to explanations about low hatch rates and such.
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Kris Haggblom
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Re: Questions/Discussion About Importing Fish and Eggs
Reply #8 - Jul 8th, 2023 at 11:11am
 
You can argue each case seperately. This is from USFW:

What is “commercial”? Commercial means related to the offering for sale or resale, purchase, trade, barter, or the actual or intended transfer in the pursuit of gain or profit, of any item of wildlife and includes the use of any wildlife article as an exhibit for the purpose of soliciting sales, without regard to quantity or weight. There is a presumption that eight or more similar unused items are for commercial use. The Service or the importer/exporter may rebut this presumption based upon the particular facts and circumstances of each case (50 CFR 14.4).
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