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Old 01/22/2018, 06:26 AM   #1
HorseoftheSea
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Collecting and bringing home critters

I've been getting in to diving lately and I was thinking how awesome it would be to go out and collect my own fish like the big fish nerds do. Plus there are some new species that I would love to get my hands on but have yet to enter the trade, like paracheilinus alfiani. Has anyone ever brought Live critters back from a diving trip? I know there are lots of folks that collect in the areas the live near or here in the states, I'm more interested in fish from overseas. I know each country has different export rules and liscenses but it seems do-able. The idea of flying to Roratonga and collecting a Peppermint angel and paracheilinus claire is really awesome. Plus that's likely the only way I'll ever get one of those Angels cause the $40000+ price tag is rediculous.


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Old 01/22/2018, 07:02 AM   #2
Ron Reefman
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Good luck!

I don't mean to dampen your enthusiasm, however, IMHO your comment, "I know each country has different export rules and licenses but it seems do-able." strikes me as your not having a clue what you are up against. In Florida it takes a wholesaler's collector license (hard to get) and a special allowance from the state (even harder to get) just to collect a Condy anemone that sells for $10 at an LFS. And I tell you that as one who has a basic saltwater collector's license and does some local collecting. The animals I'm allowed to collect is quite restrictive and the quantities I'm allowed to collect are even more restrictive, like 5 polyps of zoas or ricordia per day! And if I were to collect a Condy anemone the fine would be between $500 and $1000 and maybe even time in jail... and that's in Florida not some 3rd world island dictatorship. And there are both collection and export issues from the country of origin and more seriously, import issues into the US, especially for more exotic and rare animals. Getting it home alive is probably the easy part and even that is problematic at best.

As I said, good luck.


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Old 01/23/2018, 06:45 AM   #3
ace_92101
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ron reefman View Post
good luck!

I don't mean to dampen your enthusiasm, however, imho your comment, "i know each country has different export rules and licenses but it seems do-able." strikes me as your not having a clue what you are up against. In florida it takes a wholesaler's collector license (hard to get) and a special allowance from the state (even harder to get) just to collect a condy anemone that sells for $10 at an lfs. And i tell you that as one who has a basic saltwater collector's license and does some local collecting. The animals i'm allowed to collect is quite restrictive and the quantities i'm allowed to collect are even more restrictive, like 5 polyps of zoas or ricordia per day! And if i were to collect a condy anemone the fine would be between $500 and $1000 and maybe even time in jail... And that's in florida not some 3rd world island dictatorship. And there are both collection and export issues from the country of origin and more seriously, import issues into the us, especially for more exotic and rare animals. Getting it home alive is probably the easy part and even that is problematic at best.

As i said, good luck.
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Old 01/26/2018, 04:52 AM   #4
HorseoftheSea
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Maybe I left some ambiguity in my question Ron but I'm not a wholesaler nor would I be interested in quantities approaching that volume. I have actually given a lot of thought to this question, not just spouting off randomness. On the USFWS in the import/export rules and refs it says that the following are exempt from the required import liscenses:
"(5)As an individual owner of a personally owned live wildlife pet for personal use"
"(6) As a collector or hobbyist for personal use"
I will email them to ask for clarification but my interest outlined in my post would clearly fall under either of those two exemptions. I do believe the later one is referring to dead specimens but does not explicitly say that. I'm sure that there would be a limitation to the number of fish that I could bring back as a pet but that's not an issue. I'm not interested in saving money by short cutting the LFS, but if I'm taking a trip somewhere it would be awesome to bring back something from that place.

Google found this for me:
http://badmanstropicalfish.com/articles/article15.html


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Old 01/26/2018, 03:10 PM   #5
DivingTheWorld
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Importing the wildlife will likely require hoops from the US to jump through as you pointed out. But as others have pointed out, I think your biggest hurdle is getting permission from other countries to actually collect the wildlife, let alone remove it from their country.


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Old 01/29/2018, 05:53 AM   #6
SaltySully
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It is not just the importing them, you would have to find someone to teach you how to catch said fish, find someone to take you to were said fish could be, catch said fish, keep it alive until you leave the country, pack the animal in such a way that it will survive the trip home, clear customs, and then clear fish and wildlife. if your paperwork is not perfect, they destroy the shipment.

Plus most countries that have commercial tropical fishing don't just let anyone collect.

Still the hardest part is going to be catching the fish, it can be incredibly hard in an aquarium. in the ocean it is many times more difficult, I bet RonReefman can tell you. I collect fish commercially in Florida, it takes years to get good at catching fish with hand nets.

If you can find places you can catch your own fish and bring them in to the U.S.A. then have fun, collecting your own fish is a lot of fun, but a lot harder than most people think.


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Old 01/30/2018, 09:31 AM   #7
ackee
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I've collected my own fish for decades, mostly summer Gulf Stream tropicals here in NJ, but also occasionally in the Caribbean and in Florida, where all you need is a fishing license. My experience is that US Customs does not much care about someone with three or four fish, as long as you filled out the declaration and do not have forbidden fish, like seahorses.

Catching and maintaining fish can be the most difficult part. Catching requires practice and some specialized nets. Transporting methods can be seen in any shipment received by wholesalers. My profile page shows a medium sized Spotted Drum that I brought back from the Caribbean a decade ago, and which is still doing fine. Granted, I have learned a lot through experience, but it's not rocket science. Different areas have different rules. Trying to bring something back from Bonaire will put you in jail. Other more diverse places, less dependent on scuba derived income, are much more flexible. The trick is always to know what you are doing and to have everything thoroughly pre-planned.


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Old 01/31/2018, 06:07 PM   #8
HorseoftheSea
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I got my reply from USFWS and they clarified the rules and you do not need an import permit unless you are bringing them in for commercial use. The def of commercial they sent me is not super specific, but they said that the general presumption is that "eight or more similar unused items are for commercial use." The only requirement for non-commercial importation, apart from CITES species, is a declaration form.
As for the actual collection of said fishes, yes I know that they can be quite difficult to collect but with proper methods and materials it can be much easier. I have been reading and watching lectures and collecting videos by Dr Richard Pyle who is an extremely experienced incthyologist and collector of fish, especially mesophotic species which present unique collection issues. Many icthyologists rely on spears and lethal collection methods but Dr Pyle has demonstrated that hand/net collection is possible. I know he mentioned using anesthetic, carried in a squeeze bottle, to immobilize fish(though I'm not sure which specific compound he uses) and the researchers at Substation Curaçao(with the CuraSub) use an anesthetic called quinaldine sulfate. This Quinine compound is quite effective and not as detrimental to fish and Reefs like cyanide. The quinaldine is also beneficial when transport fish as it slows their respiration and consumption of Oxygen. The dosages would need to be researched and planned to reduce mortality but the research says that it can be used and not kill everything.
While I'm far from actually traveling to another country and collect anything I imagine that it is quite possible to do so legally. The host nations collecting/export rules would be the biggest hurdle IMO. I would think that some of them would have similar regs to Florida, requiring a fishing liscense, as sport fishing is quite popular worldwide and if I'm allowed to catch a fish alive and kill it why wouldn't I be allowed to keep that fish alive and take it with me? Once it's caught and out of the water it ought to be my property(assuming I caught it legally), and therefor I could kill it or put in my fish tank.
I posted this thread because I thought it was a novel idea and that I cannot be the only aquarist who has thought about bringing home live souvenirs. I thought at least on person on this board would have done it, and I am interested in hearing about it.


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Old 01/31/2018, 07:01 PM   #9
ackee
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I thought I'd made it clear that I have been collecting fishes in the Caribbean for several decades now, since the 1970s, maintaining them in box bags for up to two weeks, bagging and flying back with them to the states. I collect with both scuba and snorkeling, using hand nets I build myself. before 9/11 I'd carry the fishes on board the plane. Since 9/11 i have had to pack a smaller number for check through. I've never lost a fish in transit.

Catching them is an art and a great source of enjoyment. I'd never use drugs of any kind. I 've collected in Jamaica, Dominica, the Virgin islands, The Dominican republic, Panama, and several other places. Meticulous planning and bringing everything needed with you is essential. keeping them alive and healthy in your room requires a well set up series of box bags in cardboard boxes or cheap plastic bins, the only items I don't bring with me. Packing requires some experience with shipping fish. Customs has never been a problem, even in the old days when I might have a dozen or more fish. Now I only collect 2 or 3, sometimes only one. Customs is mostly interested in drug smuggling. I posted a picture of what they did to my checked through cooler chest, drilling holes to look for drugs but not harming the Spotted Drum in any way. I've posted at great length in years past on this board about collecting and transporting, as have others. it's nothing new and not at all unusual.

Years ago, when flying was uncomplicated, I would take small groups of marine aquarists to the Caribbean to collect their own fishes. I did this several times with great success. Most were only snorkelers, so i caught deeper fish for them, like Blackcap Basslets, Cherubfish, Royal grammas etc. Small angelfishes are often found in less than 5 feet of water, so my crew were all able to catch, with my help, a queen or a french angel. Over the years customs people have told me that they often see people bringing in live fish. They did not regard it as any kind of problem.



Last edited by ackee; 01/31/2018 at 08:18 PM. Reason: addition
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