H.R. 669 Update - Bill Not Moving Forward
Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act too Broad
The proposed “Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act”—H.R. 669—went before the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife yesterday [24 April 2009]. If passed, this bill could have ended the marine aquarium hobby as we know it, but, after compelling testimony from the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) and countless e-mails, letters and phone calls from pet owners (including marine aquarium hobbyists), the bill was determined to be less than perfect, and it will not move forward at this time.
Testimony from Marshall Meyers, CEO and General Counsel of PIJAC proved effective in stopping the forward momentum of H.R. 669. Representing the pet industry and, in turn, pet owners, Meyers testified that the passage of the bill would effectively put an end to many aspects of the pet industry. As Meyers’ explained, the pet industry does “support the development of a strategic, risk-based process to prevent the introduction of invasive species into the United States”, but the current language of the bill simply went too far.
H.R. 669 would have banned the import of many nonnative species including saltwater aquarium fishes, corals and other invertebrates. This would have prevented millions of American from keeping, breeding, studying, and appreciating these marine aquarium animals in a responsible manner.
At Blue Zoo, it is our belief that the conscientious marine aquarist can be on the front line of marine conservation. Ending the hobby would be ending an important way for people to appreciate, understand and, ultimately, conserve the world’s reef environments. We strongly believe that we must take steps as an industry and as individual hobbyists to prevent invasive, non-indigenous species like lionfishes from threatening native wildlife, but ending the hobby was not, is not and will never be the right solution.
We look forward to moving forward in a constructive and responsible manner--to doing what it takes to give hobbyists the tools they need to be responsible, while at the same time promoting a robust and sustainable industry that continues to allow the fishes, corals and other invertebrates to inspire awe in all who have the privilege of keeping them.