On September 26, 2016, the Center for Invasive Species Prevention (CISP) petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to add 43 species to those regulated under the Lacey Act. Among these species was the red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkia). We now plan to withdraw and reconsider that species after we do more analysis.
We recognize that this crayfish species has major economic value. It is an important part of peoples’ livelihoods in Louisiana in particular. By no means do we want anyone in that business to feel threatened by the Petition.
Right now, the CISP Petition has no official status within the Federal government. It has not been published in the Federal Register nor has the USFWS indicated any intent to make it an official agency proposal. Even if it did, such a listing would not affect collecting, harvesting, rearing or selling crawfish directly within Louisiana or within other range States.
We would like to clear up some other confusion. It is true that the Lacey Act is used to prevent first-time imports of non-native “injurious wildlife” into the United States. The law has other provisions, though, that help prevent additional introductions of damaging species already in the country, that help stop harmful species’ interstate spread, and that apply to native species invading outside of their native ranges. These latter aspects can provide nationwide protection at a time when individual State’s laws are uneven. Populations of the red swamp crayfish are turning up in the wild. One can see how quickly it has become a nationwide problem in the wild on the animated map at the U.S. Geological Survey’s website. Approximately a dozen states have responded with their own prohibitions or other regulations.
We do think it is important to set a precedent that USFWS acts, in some way, on all species it determines to be of highest risk of invasiveness. Our Petition aimed to get this ball rolling. Much further analysis and public comment would go into any eventual decisions that USFWS makes on individual species. It could leave regulation of species in widespread trade to individual States. On the red swamp crayfish, CISP will withdraw that species from our Petition and reconsider what the best options are. Then we will consider whether a new Petition tailored to that species is warranted.
posted by Peter Jenkins
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