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The U.S. House of Representatives approved on December 1, 2010 the 'Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act' (S.1421). The bill prohibits the importation and shipment of the bighead carp species Hypophthalmichthys nobilis. The bill, originally sponsored by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), passed in the Senate on November 17, 2010 by unanimous consent. The House also approved the bill by voice vote. It became law upon signature by President Obama on December 14, 2010.
The legislation amends the Lacey Act by adding the bighead carp to the list of injurious species that are prohibited from being traded in interstate commerce or imported into the United States. The new law makes it a Federal crime to import or ship the carp, unless the importer has obtained permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to import it for scientific, medical, educational, or zoological reasons.
The fish was originally introduced into U.S. waters in the 1970s, when catfish farmers imported the bighead carp and the silver carp because of their reputation for an appetite for algae and suspended matter in pond water. Eventually the carp escaped to other waterways, including the Mississippi River. They now threaten to enter Lake Michigan, and the rest of the Great Lakes. Environmentalists note that because of their voracious appetite and enormous size (they can grow to more than six feet in length and weigh more than 100 pounds, eating as much as 40 percent of their body weight every day) these fish threaten the environment for native species. Commercial and recreational fishing interests in the Great Lakes region and elsewhere are very concerned about the spread of carp. To date efforts to halt the spread of the carp have had very limited success.
U.S. trade data show no commercial imports of this fish for at least the last ten years, but there may be some of these fish entering on a non-commercial basis.
According to the UN Comtrade database, in 2009 the following countries exported goods classified under HS code 0301 to the United States of America with a trade value over the GTA threshold of USD 1 million: Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia and Australia.
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