A Platteville wholesale fish dealer has been convicted of illegally selling invasive carp in Wisconsin.
Ping Li, co-owner and sole operator of Li Fish Farm, LLC, was convicted in Grant and Dane County Circuit Courts of two misdemeanors and 17 forfeiture violations as part of a plea agreement.
Li was ordered to pay more than $13,000 in fines, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources.
This was the first case involving the illegal sale of bighead, grass-eating and silver carp.
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The 19 convictions included improper transport of Asian carp, violation of wholesale fish dealer vehicle identification requirements when transporting fish, possession of illegal fish worth more than $300 and failure to comply registers of wholesale fish merchants.
Acting on a tip in April 2018 from a concerned citizen, DNR conservation officers launched an investigation and observed Li selling the fish at Asian Midway Foods in Madison. Charges were filed against Li in September 2020.
The illegal activity, which included the sale of whole bighead, grass and silver carp that were purchased in Illinois, was documented on at least five occasions in 2018 and 2019, according to a criminal complaint in the case.
However, the illegal activities had been going on for several years before, according to the agency.
It is illegal to own Asian carp in Wisconsin unless the fish have been gutted or the gills severed.
Undercover work by DNR guards revealed that Li carried hundreds of pounds of prohibited carp during most deliveries to the grocery store.
The bighead, grass-eating, and silver carp in this case are different from the carp known as German carp or common carp that have lived in Wisconsin since the mid-1800s.
Although all considered invasive, bighead carp and silver carp in particular have spread across the United States in recent decades and caused significant damage to native ecosystems and fisheries.
“The species (are) at the top of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors’ and Premiers’ list of least wanted aquatic invasive species,” said Lt. Robert Stroess, DNR’s Administrator for Commercial Fisheries and Aquatic Species. in the Commerce app, in a statement. .
The MRN has listed the following threats for each species:
– Bighead carp feed on plankton, which is the main food for many native fish, including walleye, yellow perch, lake whitefish and all juvenile fish. This specific carp is a major threat to the $7 billion Great Lakes fishing industry.
– The silver carp also feeds on fish habitats attacked by the bighead. This species is also known to leap out of the water, posing a threat to boaters and the region’s $16 billion boating industry.
– Grass carp feed on aquatic habitats and are known to contribute to algal blooms and damage to wetlands and waterfowl habitats.
The species is found in the Mississippi River and some inland waters of Wisconsin, but has not yet been documented in Lake Michigan.
“Laws around the Great Lakes states are in place to minimize the threat of these species ending up in new waterways in human hands,” Stroess said. “The laws are important protections for our native Wisconsin fish.”
Almost all of the invasive carp sold and transported by Li were completely intact and therefore illegal in Wisconsin. In 2018 alone, more than 9,000 pounds of Li’s overall invasive carp sales were transported or sold illegally in the state.
Li also broke the law when he used an unmarked refrigerated van to transport and deliver most of the illegal carp, which made it difficult to identify him as a wholesale fish dealer vehicle.
To learn more about rules, regulations, and preventative measures regarding invasive carp in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov.
Hunter education changes: Beginning March 21, the DNR will once again require aspiring hunters under the age of 18 to attend an in-person hunter training test.
Due to health concerns related to COVID-19, the ministry had put in place a temporary policy that allowed young people to obtain their certificate through an entirely online process.
Students under the age of 18 enrolled in the fully online course will have until March 20 to complete it. People over the age of 18 can continue to use the online course.
The DNR has a list of hunter education courses and options on its website at dnr.wi.gov.