[Federal Register Volume 67, Number 144 (Friday, July 26, 2002)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 48855-48864]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 02-19016]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 16

RIN 1018-AI36


Injurious Wildlife Species; Snakeheads (family Channidae)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to amend 50 CFR 
16.13 to add snakeheads (family Channidae) to the list of injurious 
fish, mollusks, and crustaceans. This listing would have the effect of 
prohibiting the interstate transportation and importation of any live 
animal or viable egg of snakeheads into the United States. The best 
available information indicates that this action is necessary to 
protect the wildlife and wildlife resources from the purposeful or 
accidental introduction and subsequent establishment of snakehead 
populations in ecosystems of the United States. As proposed, live 
snakeheads or viable eggs could be imported only by permit for 
scientific, medical, educational, or zoological purposes, or without a 
permit by Federal agencies solely for their own use; permits would also 
be required for the interstate transportation of live snakeheads or 
viable eggs currently held in the United States, for scientific, 
medical, educational, or zoological purposes.

DATES: Comments must be submitted on or before August 26, 2002.

ADDRESSES: Comments may be mailed or sent by fax to the Chief, Division 
of Environmental Quality, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North 
Fairfax

[[Page 48856]]

Drive, Suite 322, Arlington, VA 22203, FAX (703) 358-1800. You may send 
comments by electronic mail (e-mail) to: Snakeheads@fws.gov. See the 
Public Comments Solicited section below for file format and other 
information about electronic filing.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kari Duncan, Division of Environmental 
Quality, Branch of Invasive Species at (703) 358-2464 or 
kari_duncan@fws.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The purpose of this proposed rule is to prevent the accidental or 
intentional introduction of snakeheads (family Channidae) and the 
possible subsequent establishment of populations of these fish in the 
wild. The Fish and Wildlife Service is initiating this proposed rule 
based upon information we have obtained that indicates that snakeheads 
may be injurious to the wildlife and wildlife resources of the United 
States.

Description of the Proposed Rule

    The regulations contained in 50 CFR part 16 implement the Lacey Act 
(18 U.S.C. 42) as amended. Under the terms of the law, the Secretary of 
the Interior is authorized to prohibit by regulation certain activities 
involving wild mammals, wild birds, fish (including mollusks and 
crustaceans), amphibians, reptiles, and the offspring or eggs of any of 
the foregoing, that are injurious to human beings, to the interests of 
agriculture, horticulture, or forestry, or to the wildlife or wildlife 
resources of the United States. The lists of injurious wildlife species 
are at 50 CFR 16.11-15. If snakeheads are determined to be injurious, 
their importation into, or transportation between, States, the District 
of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any territory or 
possession of the United States by any means whatsoever is prohibited, 
except by permit for zoological, educational, medical, or scientific 
purposes (in accordance with permit regulations at 50 CFR 16.22), or by 
Federal agencies without a permit solely for their own use, upon filing 
a written declaration with the District Director of Customs and the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Inspector at the port of entry. In 
addition, no live snakeheads, progeny thereof, or viable eggs acquired 
under permit could be sold, donated, traded, loaned, or transferred to 
any other person or institution unless such person or institution has a 
permit issued by the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 
The interstate transportation of any live snakeheads or viable eggs 
currently held in the United States for any purposes not permitted 
would be prohibited.

Biology

    Two genera are currently recognized in the family Channidae. They 
are Channa (snakeheads of Asia, Malaysia, and Indonesia) and Parachanna 
(African snakeheads). Synonyms include Bostrychoides, Ophicephalus and 
its misspelled form Ophiocephalus, and Parophiocephalus. Although 86 
species and 4 subspecies have been described (Eschmeyer, 1998), current 
taxonomy is in flux with approximately 28 species recognized as valid 
(Musikasinthorn, 2001; Table 1). Because their morphology is very 
similar, it is very difficult to differentiate among species of 
snakeheads. Juvenile and adult color patterns are often quite different 
(Day, 1875; Lee and Ng, 1991, 1994), and some are quite variable in 
size and color, and may represent species complexes. A taxonomic 
revision of the family, expected to be published within the next two 
years, will likely result in additional species being recognized as 
valid and perhaps new species described.

  Table 1.--Currently Recognized Species of the Family Channidae (After
                       Musikasinthorn, 2000, 2001)
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Channa amphibeus (McClelland, 1845)--no common name known
Channa argus (Cantor, 1842)--northern snakehead
Channa asiatica (Linnaeus, 1758)--Chinese snakehead
Channa aurantimaculata Musikasinthorn, 2000--no English common name;
 naga-cheng (Assam, India)
Channa bankanensis (Bleeker, 1852)--Bangka snakehead
Channa baramensis (Steindachner, 1901)--Baram snakehead
Channa barca (Hamilton, 1822)--barca snakehead
Channa bleheri Vierke, 1991--rainbow snakehead
Channa cyanospilos (Bleeker, 1853)--bluespotted snakehead
Channa gachua (Hamilton, 1822)--dwarf snakehead
Channa harcourtbutleri (Annandale, 1918)--Inle snakehead
Channa lucius (Cuvier, 1831)--splendid snakehead
Channa maculata (Lacepede, 1802)--blotched snakehead
Channa marulius (Hamilton, 1822)--bullseye snakehead
Channa maruloides (Bleeker, 1851)--emperor snakehead
Channa melanoptera (Bleeker, 1855)--no common name known
Channa melasoma (Bleeker, 1851)--black snakehead
Channa micropeltes (Cuvier, 1831)--giant snakehead
Channa nox (Zhang, Musikasinthorn, and Watanabe, 2002)--no English
 common name
Channa orientalis Schneider, 1801--Ceylon snakehead
Channa panaw Musikasinthorn, 1998--no English common name; ng panaw
 (Myanmar)
Channa pleurophthalmus (Bleeker, 1851)--ocellated snakehead
Channa punctata (Bloch, 1793)--spotted snakehead
Channa stewartii (Playfair, 1867)--golden snakehead
Channa striata (Bloch, 1797)--chevron snakehead
Parachanna africana (Steindachner, 1879)--Niger snakehead
Parachanna insignis (Sauvage, 1884)--Congo snakehead
Parachanna obscura (Gunther, 1861)--African snakehead
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Snakeheads have distinctive morphological features as follows: 
Long, almost cylindrical body; long dorsal and anal fins, and all fins 
supported only by rays; large scales on head, somewhat similar to the 
large epidermal scales on the heads of snakes (hence the common name, 
snakeheads); eyes dorsolateral (back and side) and located on the 
anterior portion of the head; tubular, anterior nostrils; pectoral and 
caudal fin margins rounded; large mouth with protruding lower jaw; 
lower jaw always toothed, and prevomer and palatines often toothed; 
some lower jaw teeth canine-like, and canines present or absent on 
prevomer and palatines; most species with pelvic fins present; and 
ventral aorta typically divided into two portions, one serving the 
gills and the other the suprabranchial (above the gills) chambers. 
Suprabranchial chambers of Channa are non-labyrinthic (complex system 
of paths/tunnels), and made up of two plates, one formed by the first 
epibranchial (above the gills), the second from the hyomandibular; 
those of Parachanna consist of a single cavity with elements from the 
epibranchial of the first gill arch and hyomandibular absent.
    Two larger snakehead species, Channa marulius and C. maruloides, 
superficially resemble the native bowfin, Amia calva, in that all three 
are elongated fishes, have long dorsal fins, tubular nostrils, and an 
ocellus

[[Page 48857]]

(eyespot) at the base of the upper portion of the caudal fin. The 
bowfin, however, has its pelvic fins in a more abdominal rather than 
thoracic or anterior-abdominal position, and the anal fin is not 
elongated. Moreover, the bowfin does not have a rosette (circular 
arrangement) of enlarged scales on top of the head.
    Species and species complexes of the genus Channa are native from 
southeastern Iran and eastern Afghanistan eastward through Pakistan, 
India, southern Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Laos, 
Malaysia, Sumatra, Indonesia, and China northward into Siberia. Of the 
currently recognized 25 species of Channa, 9 species and 
representatives of 4 species complexes occur in peninsular Malaysia, 
Sumatra, and/or Indonesia. Of the same 25 species, 16 species and 
members of 5 species complexes are tropical to subtropical; members of 
three species complexes are temperate; and one species is temperate to 
boreal and can live beneath ice in the northern portion of its range. 
The three species of Parachanna are native to Africa and are tropical.
    Snakeheads are considered as non-ostariophysan primary freshwater 
fishes (Mirza, 1975, 1995), meaning they have little or no tolerance 
for seawater. Habitat preferences vary by species or species complex, 
with a majority occurring in streams and rivers. Others occur in 
swamps, rice paddies, ponds, and ditches. All can tolerate hypoxic (low 
oxygen) conditions because they are airbreathers from late juvenile 
stages. Where known, pH range, varies by species with one (Channa 
bankanensis) preferring highly acidic (pH 2.8-3.8) waters. At least 
three species are tolerant of a wide pH range; C. gachua, C. punctata, 
and C. striata survived for 72 hours at pH levels ranging from 4.25 to 
9.4 (Varma, 1979).
    Spawning seasons vary by species. While information on reproductive 
biology of many species is lacking, several conclusions can be drawn 
from those for which this information is available. Breeding in several 
species occurs primarily in summer months (June through August), and in 
at least two (the Channa striata species complex and C. punctata), 
breeding pairs can be found throughout the year. Some species spawn 
twice each year. Okada (1960) reported that female northern snakeheads, 
C. argus, are capable of spawning five times per year. There are 
several reports that when snakeheads pair, the pair remains monogamous 
for a spawning season, perhaps longer, but a pair may not mate for 
life.
    Snakeheads build nests by clearing a generally circular area in 
aquatic vegetation, often weaving the removed vegetation around the 
centrally cleared area. This results in a vertical column of water 
surrounded by vegetation. One species (C. punctata) prepares elaborate 
tunnels through vegetation leading into the nest column. At time of 
spawning, the male and female move upward into the central region of 
the nest column. The male entwines his body around that of the female, 
with some species appearing to ``dance'' in the water column as eggs 
are released and fertilized (Breder and Rosen, 1966; Ng and Lim, 1990). 
Eggs are buoyant, rising to the surface of the nest column, where they 
are vigorously guarded by one or both parents. Snakeheads in two 
species complexes (C. gachua and C. orientalis) are mouthbrooders, with 
the male being the mouthbrooder of fertilized eggs and, later, fry. 
Most snakeheads, however, are not mouthbrooders, but one or both 
parents guard their young vigorously; one species (C. micropeltes) 
reportedly attacked and in some instances killed humans who approached 
the mass of young (Kottelat, 1993). Thus, parental care, whether by 
mouthbrooding or guarding, is a behavioral characteristic of 
snakeheads. Successful spawning in the absence of vegetation has also 
been reported for three species of snakeheads (Parameswaran and 
Murgesan (1976b).

Fecundity and Early Development

    There is limited information on fecundity (capacity to produce 
offspring) except for those snakeheads of commercial importance. 
Nevertheless, that information shows a pattern that likely applies to 
the entire family Channidae. Smaller species, such as Channa gachua and 
C. orientalis, produce few oocytes or unfertilized ``eggs'' (about 20 
when sexual maturity is first reached and later up to 200; Lee and Ng, 
1991, 1994). Both are considered to be ``species complexes'' and one or 
both ``species'' contain mouthbrooding adults; low fecundity is a 
general rule among mouthbrooding fishes (Breder and Rosen, 1966). 
Fecundity increases greatly in larger snakehead species and appears to 
follow increasing body length. For example, Quayyum and Quasim (1962) 
recorded fecundity ranging from 2,300--26,000 oocytes for C. striata, 
increasing in number with increasing body length. The bullseye 
snakehead, C. marulius, the largest species of snakehead, has been 
reported to produce approximately 40,000 oocytes (Jhingran, 1984). 
Frank (1970) reported that the northern snakehead, C. argus, produced 
approximately 50,000 oocytes (Frank, 1970). Frank's data came from 
Nikol'skiy (1956) who recorded fecundity of 22,000-51,000 in northern 
snakehead from the Amur basin. Dukravets and Machulin (1978) gave 
fecundity rates of 28,600 to a high of 115,000 for northern snakehead 
(probably from Yangtze River stock) introduced to the Syr Dar'ya basin 
of Turkmenistan/Uzbekistan. They also noted that, although the growth 
of northern snakehead is slower than that reported for this species 
from the Amur basin, growth rates from both stocks become equal once 
sexual maturity is reached.
    Oocytes, when released from the female parent, are small, ranging 
from approximately 1 mm to slightly over 2 mm in diameter, depending on 
species. Fertilization takes place by the male releasing milt (sperm) 
on the oocytes (or eggs) as they emerge from the female. Eggs contain 
an oil droplet within the yolk mass, which causes them to rise to the 
surface. Development time to hatching varies with water temperature 
and, to a lesser extent, with the species involved. For example, 
hatching occurred in 54 hours at 16-26 deg.C and 30 hours at 28-
33 deg.C in Channa punctata (Khan, 1924). In the northern snakehead, C. 
argus, eggs hatch in 28 hours at 31 deg.C, 45 hours at 25 deg.C, and 
120 hours at 18 deg.C.

Early Life History

    In general, newly hatched fry, depending on species, are about 
3.0--3.5 mm in length. Following yolk absorption, snakehead fry begin 
feeding on zooplankton. Fry typically remain together until they reach 
early juvenile stage, guarded by one or both adults, or until they can 
fend for themselves (Lee and Ng, 1994). Late juveniles of the giant 
snakehead, Channa micropeltes, school and feed in packs (Lee and Ng, 
1991). Although there are few reports of early life history except for 
species of commercial importance, it appears that, as larval snakeheads 
mature to early juvenile stages, the diet changes to small crustaceans 
and insects, particularly insect larvae. Presence of phytoplankton, 
plant material, and detritus in the digestive system of young 
snakeheads, as well as adults, appears to occur from incidental 
ingestion.

Respiration and Overland Migrations

    Snakeheads are highly evolved airbreathing teleostean (bony) 
fishes, and many are capable of overland migration by wriggling motions 
(Lee and Ng, 1991; Berra, 2001). They possess suprabranchial (above the 
gills) chambers for aerial respiration, and the ventral aorta is 
divided into two

[[Page 48858]]

portions to permit bimodal (aquatic and aerial) respiration (Das and 
Saxena, 1956; Graham, 1997). The suprabranchial chambers become 
functional during the juvenile stage of growth (Graham, 1997), 
following which some species of snakeheads are obligate (limited, bound 
to a restricted environment) and others are facultative (optional, 
ability to live under varied conditions) airbreathers. In Channa, the 
chambers open into the pharynx through inhalent openings. The chamber 
lining contains respiratory ``islets'' with vascular papillae. The 
chambers can be filled with air or water. In addition, in C. striata, 
there are also vascular structures in the mouth and pharynx that can be 
utilized for respiration; these, however, can be retracted into 
depressions to prevent damage when feeding (Munshi and Hughes, 1992).
    Some channids, perhaps all, have a circadian rhythm in oxygen 
uptake. Channa marulius, for example, showed a peak in oxygen uptake at 
night. C. striata and C. gachua peaked in early night hours, and C. 
punctata at dusk (Munshi and Hughes, 1992). Munshi and Hughes (1992) 
attributed these rhythms to evolution in swamp ecosystems (i.e., the 
rhythm is a property of the ecosystem).
    It is unknown how many species of snakeheads are capable of 
overland migrations, but several are known to do so. These migrations 
from drying habitats in search of those with water are probably driven 
by instinctive behavior. Overland migrations likely apply to those 
species whose native range is subject to seasonal dry/wet (or 
monsoonal) conditions (encompassing much of western to southeastern 
Asia, where a majority of snakehead species exist).

Hypoxic Survival

    Snakeheads are either obligate or facultative airbreathers. 
Therefore, survival in hypoxic waters is not problematic to these 
fishes. When prevented from access to the surface, adult snakeheads 
will drown due to lack of oxygen (Day, 1868, Lee and Ng, 1991). 
Moreover, snakeheads can remain out of water for considerable periods 
of time as long as they remain moist. Some snakeheads, especially 
Channa striata, can bury themselves in mud during times of drought 
(Smith, 1965). They are known to secrete mucus that helps to reduce 
desiccation and facilitates cutaneous breathing (Mittal and Banerji, 
1975; Lee and Ng, 1991). Fishers in Thailand are aware of this habit 
and, during drought periods, will slice into the mud until they locate 
the fish (Smith, 1965).
    For larger species of snakeheads such as Channa marulius, young are 
facultative airbreathers and adults are obligate breathers (Wee, 1982), 
but all species are airbreathers.

Life Span

    No specific information on life span can be found in the 
literature. Nevertheless, one species (C. marulius) is reported to 
reach a total length of 1.8 meters in Maharashtra State, India (Talwar 
and Jhingran, 1992), indicating a relatively long life span. Smaller 
snakeheads, such as members of the C. gachua and C. orientalis species 
complexes, may not live for more than a few years. Most larger 
snakeheads are reported to reach sexual maturity in two years, after 
which growth slows but fecundity increases with increasing size.

Feeding Habits

    There are few studies of feeding habits of snakeheads. For those 
species studied, following yolk-sac absorption, snakehead fry feed 
mostly on zooplankton. As juveniles, they feed on insect larvae, small 
crustaceans, and fry of other fishes (Munshi and Hughes, 1992). What is 
universal in reports of adult feeding habits is that snakeheads are 
predators with many species showing a preference for other fishes, 
although they may also consume crustaceans, frogs, smaller reptiles, 
and sometimes birds and small mammals. Under conditions of food 
deprivation, snakeheads can become cannibalistic on their own young. 
The piscivorous (fish-eating) nature of snakeheads has led to the use 
of some species (C. striata and C. micropeltes in particular) to 
control tilapia populations in aquaculture.

Associated Diseases and Parasites

    Investigations of diseases and parasites of snakeheads concentrate 
on those species of importance in aquaculture. Bykhovskaya-Pavlovskaya 
et al. (1964) cited Channa argus as hosting 18 parasite species (Table 
2). Two of the same parasites listed by Bykhovskaya-Pavlovskaya et al. 
(1964) were reported from the digestive tracts of northern snakeheads 
from Kyungpook Province, Korea, from 115 specimens collected between 
1995 and 1997. The trematode Azygia hwangtsinyi was found in 47% of the 
samples and the nematode Pingis sinensis in 73%.

                                                 Table 2.--Parasites of Northern Snakehead, Channa argus
                                                  [Adapted from Bykhovskaya-Pavolovskaya et al. (1964)]
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           Parasite                           Group                                Host issues                           Other fishes affected
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Myxidium ophiocephali........  Myxosporidia......................  gall bladder, liver ducts.................
Zschokkella ophiocephalli....  Myxosporidia......................  kidney tubules............................
Neomyxobolus ophiocephalus...  Myxosporidia......................  gill filaments............................
Mysosoma acuta...............  Myxosporidia......................  gill filaments............................  crucian carp.
Myxobolus cheisini...........  Myxosporidia......................  gill filaments............................
Henneguya zschokkei..........  Myxosporidia......................  gills, subcutaneous, musculature..........  salmonids (tubercle disease of
                                                                                                                salmonids).
Henneguya ophiocephali.......  Myxosporidia......................  gill arches, suprabranchial chambers......
Henneguya vovki..............  Myxosporidia......................  body cavity...............................
Thelohanellus catlae.........  Myxosporidia......................  kidneys...................................
Gyrodactylus ophiocephali....  Monogenoidea......................  fins......................................
Polyonchobothrium              Cestoidea.........................  intestine.................................
 ophiocephalina.
Cysticercus Gryporhynchus      Cestoidea.........................  gallbladder, intestine....................  cyprinids, perches.
 cheilancristrotus.
Azygia hwangtsiui............  Trematoda.........................  intestines................................
Clinostomum complanatum......  Trematoda.........................  body cavity...............................  perches.
Pingis sinensis..............  Nematoda..........................  intestine.................................
Paracanthocephalus curtus....  Acanthocephala....................  intestine.................................  cyprinids, esocids, sleepers, bagrid
                                                                                                                catfishes.
Paracanthocephalus             Acanthocephala....................  intestine.................................
 tenuirostris.

[[Page 48859]]

 
Lamproglena chinensis........  Copepoda..........................  gills.....................................
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    Literature on parasites of snakeheads includes numerous 
descriptions of new species, not detailed herein, but indicates that 
most studies concentrate on cultured fishes such as Channa argus, C. 
punctata, and C. striata. The potential threat of these parasites to 
native North American fishes has yet to be examined.
    A disease that received broad attention is epizootic ulcerative 
syndrome (EUS) that causes high mortality in snakeheads, particularly 
Channa striata and C. punctata under intensive culture. EUS involves 
several pathogens, including motile aeromonad bacteria (eg., Aeromonas 
hydrophila, A. caviae, Pseudomonas fluorescens; Prasad et al., 1998; 
Qureshi et al., 1999), a fungus Aphanomyces invadans (considered a 
primary pathogen; Mohan et al., 1999; Miles et al., 2001), and perhaps 
a rhabdovirus (Kanchanakhan et al., 1999; Lio-Po et al., 2000). Another 
bacterium, Aquaspirillum sp., has also been implicated in the disease 
(Lio-Po et al., 1998). EUS may have originated in India in the 1980s, 
but has since been found in Pakistan, Thailand, and the Philippines 
with outbreaks reported from all these areas during the 1990s. 
Snakeheads are not the only fishes affected by this disease. It is also 
known to occur in airbreathing catfish (Clarias), the bagrid catfish 
genus Mystus, two cyprinid genera (Cyprinus and Puntius), mastacembalid 
eels (Mastacembalus), and the nandid genus Nandus in India (Mukherjee, 
1998). In Thailand, it has been found in giant gourami (Osphronemus 
gouramy) and climbing perch (Anabas testudineus) during an outbreak in 
1996-1997 (Kanchanakhan et al., 1999).
    History of introduction in the United States: Four species of 
snakeheads (Channa argus, C. marulius, C. micropeltes, and C. striata) 
have been recorded from open waters of the United States (California, 
Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island), and 
two have become established as reproducing populations. At least 13 
States prohibit possession of live snakeheads (Alabama, California, 
Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nevada, 
Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington) and there has been illegal 
activity, confiscations, citations issued, or investigations initiated 
in six of those States within the past two years (Alabama, California, 
Florida, Kentucky, Texas, and Washington).

Florida

    An established population of the bullseye snakehead, Channa 
marulius, was discovered in residential lakes and adjoining canals in 
Tamarac, Broward County, Florida, in 2001 (Florida Fish and Wildlife 
Conservation Commission, 2001). It is unknown how long this species has 
occupied these waters, perhaps several years, but both juveniles and 
adults have been collected, which indicates reproductive success. This 
species is the largest of snakeheads, with adults commonly reaching 
lengths of 120-122 cm (Talwar and Jhingran, 1992). It has been reported 
that in Maharashtra State, India, it can reach a length of 1.8 m and a 
weight of 30 kg (Talwar and Jhingran, 1992). A length of 30 cm can be 
reached in one year (Talwar and Jhingran, 1992). The pathway of the 
introduction to Florida is unknown. The species may have escaped from a 
fish farm (although there are none known in Tamarac), been purposefully 
introduced to establish a food or aquarium fish resource, or they may 
have been introduced by aquarists. Tamarac is located just east of 
Water Conservation Area II, north of Everglades National Park, and 
interconnected canal systems lead into this area. Nevertheless, there 
are water control structures on canals leading into Water Conservation 
Area II that would have to be open to allow this snakehead access to 
that area. It is likely that C. marulius will expand its range in 
peninsular Florida as its native range includes tropical to temperate 
climates. The bullseye snakehead is considered predacious (Jhingran, 
1984; Talwar and Jhingran, 1992), especially on other fishes (Schmidt, 
2001).
    The northern snakehead, Channa argus, is also reported from Florida 
waters. Two individuals were caught in the St. Johns River below Lake 
Harney, Seminole and Volusia counties, in 2000. Unconfirmed reports 
indicate three additional individuals having been caught nearby. An 
attempt to collect additional specimens by U.S. Geological Survey 
personnel by electroshocking was unsuccessful, but will be repeated in 
2002. Until reproduction has been confirmed, the species is considered 
present but not established. This species is not involved in the 
aquarium fish trade, but is sold in live food fish markets as a food 
fish. The most likely pathway is introduction of live food fish, 
perhaps to establish a local source. The northern snakehead is sold in 
live food fish markets and some restaurants in Boston and New York, 
where snakeheads are legal. Live C. argus were confiscated in 
Washington (100 individuals, alive on ice, destined for the 
international district of Seattle), a market in Houston, Texas (Howells 
et al., 2002), markets in Miami and Plantation, southeastern Florida, 
in 2001, and in Orlando, Florida, in March 2002, all indications of the 
availability of this species in States where possession is illegal. 
Moreover, a few U.S. aquarium fish retailers sell snakeheads via the 
Internet. USGS scientists purchased three species from a reputable 
dealer in Rhode Island, who first requested a copy of the State permit 
that allowed USGS to possess the fish in Florida. Private purchases can 
also be made through several Internet ``chat rooms'' where possession 
of permits is not discussed.

California

    California Department of Fish and Game personnel collected a 
snakehead while electrofishing in a reservoir, Silverwood Lake, in 
1997. Silverwood Lake is in the Mohave River drainage, east-northeast 
of Los Angeles and north of San Bernardino in the San Bernardino 
Mountains. The specimen was subsequently frozen and later discarded 
(Camm Swift, pers. comm.). It was identified as Channa argus (John 
Sunada, pers. comm. to W.R. Courtenay, Jr.). It is believed that the 
fish got in the lake from the California Aqueduct that runs from the 
San Joaquin River south of Stockton into Lake Silverwood, one of 
several reservoirs that serves Los Angeles.

Hawaii

    The chevron snakehead, (Channa striata) has been established on 
Oahu, Hawaii, since the late 1800s and was introduced from southern 
China (Herre, 1924). For whatever reasons, it does not appear to have 
been introduced to other

[[Page 48860]]

waters of Hawaii and is confined to reservoirs on Oahu (Maciolek, 
1984). In addition, the species is now being cultured as a food fish on 
Oahu. This species is regarded as carnivorous with a preference for 
other fishes (Moshin and Ambak, 1983; Conlu, 1986). Lee and Ng (1991) 
described it as a territorial ambush feeder. It is also used to control 
tilapia populations in the Philippines (Conlu, 1986).

Maryland

    Two adults and eight juveniles of Channa argus were found in a pond 
in Crofton, Anne Arundel County, Maryland in late June and early July 
2002. The adults are known to have over-wintered in the pond. The fish 
were purchased from a live food fish market in New York City, 
transported to Maryland, and kept in an aquarium, and two fish were 
released into the pond in 2000. This species appears to be the most 
common snakehead available in food markets and restaurants as a live 
food fish.

New England States

    A specimen of the northern snakehead, Channa argus, was collected 
in October 2001 from Newton Pond, Sudbury, Worcester County, 
Massachusetts, by Massachusetts Department of Fish and Wildlife 
personnel. The likely source is from live food fish markets. It is 
capable of establishment in most fresh waters of the United States. 
Okada (1960) reported adults as voracious feeders, particularly on 
other fishes.
    Specimens of the giant snakehead, Channa micropeltes, have been 
collected from open waters in Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island 
(Courtenay et al, 1984; Fuller et al., 1999). This tropical/subtropical 
species could not become established in those temperate waters. 
Juveniles of the species are cardinal red with two dark stripes on 
either side of the body, and sold by aquarium fish retailers as red or 
redline snakeheads. Aquarist-oriented web sites note that this species 
requires much animal food and that growth is rapid. These sites often 
advise that, once these fish reach approximately 15-20 cm in length, no 
more than one individual should be kept in a single aquarium because 
they are aggressive predators. The pathway into these New England 
States was likely aquarists who released their ``pets'' when they grew 
too large for their aquaria and/or because it was too costly to feed 
them. Releases of this species into subtropical waters in southern 
Florida or Hawaii could lead to establishment of this snakehead, 
regarded as the most predaceous channid and known to have attacked 
humans (Ng and Lim, 1990; Lee and Ng, 1991; Kottelat et al., 1993).

Uses

    According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Law Enforcement data, 
16,554 individuals or 20,527 kilograms of all species of snakeheads 
were imported into the United States between 1997 and 2000 at a 
declared value of $85,425 (records of imports report numbers of 
individual fish OR weight in kilograms). Importations of snakeheads 
into the contiguous United States do not appear to represent a 
significant portion of live fish imports at present. However, from the 
raw data, it is clear that the trend has been upward in recent years.
    Snakeheads have been imported into the United States for two 
purposes: As aquarium fish and for use as food. In Southeast Asia, 
particularly in Thailand and Malaysia, and to a lesser extent in Japan, 
there are developing recreational fisheries for the larger snakehead 
species (see http://www.fishingasia.com as an example).
    Several species of snakeheads are listed on aquarium fish websites. 
Some of these entries are for information purposes and a few others 
list fish for sale. The most popular species are, in order of 
importance and availability: Channa micropeltes, juveniles sold as red 
or redline snakehead; C. marulius, juveniles sold as cobra snakehead; 
C. bleheri, sold as rainbow snakehead; C. barca sold as barca or tiger 
snakehead; C. gachua sold under a variety of names; and Parachanna 
africana, juveniles sold as African snakehead. Some are cultured and 
others are captured from the wild. Rarely does one see listings for C. 
asiatica, C. orientalis, C. pleuropthalma, C. punctata, or C. 
stewartii. This is somewhat surprising because several are attractive 
aquarium fishes, and they can be purchased from dealers in southeast 
Asia via the Internet. Channa bleheri, C. gachua, and C. orientalis are 
small snakeheads, unlike C. micropeltes and C. marulius that grow 
quickly to large sizes. All but the smallest snakeheads are unsuitable 
for community tanks, and even they may kill other fishes in aquaria. 
Larger snakeheads require very large aquaria and must be kept alone. 
The number of aquarium hobbyists interested in keeping snakeheads 
appears to be small, and snakeheads represent a minor component in the 
aquarium fish industry (Marshall Myers, pers. comm. to J.D. Williams).
    Conversely, use of snakeheads as food fishes is growing in the 
United States (Table 3). Live snakeheads of the larger species can be 
purchased in live food fish markets and in some restaurants in States 
where these fishes are not prohibited, but they are also appearing in 
markets in States where possession is prohibited (Howells et al., 
2002). Some restaurants display live snakeheads in aquaria, a common 
practice where these fishes are native, allowing customers to choose a 
fish to be prepared for a meal. This is reminiscent of many U.S. 
seafood restaurants where one can select a lobster to be cooked from an 
aquarium.
    During FY 1999, the USDA Small Business Innovation Research Program 
funded a Phase II project to the Hawaii Fish Company of Waialua, 
Hawaii, to develop commercial culture of the chevron snakehead, Channa 
striata. It is now being cultured in Hawaii as a food fish.

Table 3.--Species of the Family Channidae Currently Known To Be Cultured
                   for Food and/or Aquarium Fish Trade
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Channa argus **
Channa maculatus
Channa marulius
Channa micropeltes ***
Channa punctata
Channa striata *
Parachanna africana
Parachanna obscura
------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Species most widely cultured for food. Also being cultured in Hawaii.
** Second most important species cultured for food.
*** Appears to be the most important species cultured for the aquarium
  fish trade.

    Although several snakehead species may be found for sale alive in 
live food fish markets, the most available species is the northern 
snakehead, Channa argus. It is being sold in Boston and New York City, 
where snakeheads are legal. Through confiscation by State fish and game 
personnel in 2001, it has also been found in the live food fish trade 
of three States (Florida, Texas, and Washington) where possession of 
snakeheads is prohibited. The northern snakehead is able to tolerate a 
considerable temperature range, from warm temperate to boreal climates, 
where this species can live under ice. Additionally, its airbreathing 
capabilities enhance its transport and marketing. Marketing and 
customer preferences, however, are not synonymous. For example, persons 
of southeastern Asian descent prefer chevron snakehead, C. striata, 
above any other species. It is currently being cultured in much of 
southeastern Asia, the Philippines, and Hawaii.

[[Page 48861]]

Potential Range

    Temperature is the most important environmental factor that would 
determine potential range of snakeheads in the United States. Because 
there are few data providing thermal tolerance ranges for snakeheads, 
potential range must be inferred from distribution within native 
ranges. The family Channidae contains nine species that are strictly 
tropical, and if introduced, would survive in the warmest waters such 
as extreme southern Florida, perhaps parts of southern California, 
Hawaii, and certain thermal spring systems and their outflows in the 
American west. Another four can be considered tropical to subtropical, 
indicating a similar potential range of distribution as for tropical 
species but with a greater likelihood of survival during cold winters 
and more northward limits. One is subtropical. Another 12 (4 of which 
appear to be species complexes) snakeheads can tolerate tropical or 
subtropical to warm temperate conditions, indicative of species that 
could survive in most southern States. One is warm temperate, and 
another warm temperate to cold temperate (Channa argus with a 
temperature range of 0->30 deg. C).
    In summary, there are few waters in the United States or 
territories of the United States that, based on temperature, would 
preclude some member(s) of the family Channidae from becoming 
established.

Need for Proposed Rule--Environmental Consequences

Factors That Contribute to Injuriousness

    The likelihood of release or escape of snakeheads is high. One 
species, Channa striata, was released and became established in waters 
of Oahu, Hawaii, before 1900. It was likely introduced as a food fish. 
A second species, Channa marulius, is a recent introduction to 
southeastern Florida (Broward County) and has also become established. 
The pathway for this introduction was release of either food or 
aquarium fish. Two specimens of Channa argus were caught in the St. 
Johns River near Sanford, Florida, and three more were alleged to have 
been caught at or near the same location. This species is available 
only through live food fish markets. The same species was captured from 
a pond in central Massachusetts in October 2001. The snakehead captured 
in Lake Silverwood, California, was also C. argus. Two adults and eight 
juveniles of C. argus were collected from a pond in Crofton, Maryland, 
in June and July 2002. Individual specimens of Channa micropeltes were 
caught in Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island in past years, the 
source of which were most likely aquarium fish releases. Those New 
England States are temperate and could not support establishment of 
this tropical/subtropical snakehead.
    Escape from culture has resulted in establishment of other 
nonindigenous fishes. If, however, these fish are being shipped to 
markets in other States, release of live food fish becomes a viable 
pathway for introduction of this species and they could become 
established from Florida to or above the U.S.-Canadian border and in 
many territories of the United States.
    If snakeheads escaped, or were released into the wild, the 
likelihood that they would survive and/or become established with or 
without reproduction is dependent upon the species of snakehead 
involved and the location of the release. Waters of southern Florida, 
Hawaii, the Caribbean territories, and certain thermal springs in the 
western United States are suitable for survival and establishment of 
probably all tropical/subtropical to warm temperate snakehead species. 
That Channa striata has been established for over a century in Hawaii 
and, more recently, C. marulius has become established as a reproducing 
population in southeastern Florida is indicative of the likelihood of 
survival and potential for establishment of snakehead fishes. Although 
C. striata is largely confined to reservoirs on Oahu, C. marulius has 
ample opportunity to expand its range in southeastern Florida through 
the large network of interconnected canals and Water Conservation Areas 
to the west of the metropolitan areas. The native range of this species 
extends above 30 deg. N.
    The availability of Channa argus in live food fish markets raises 
the probability that this species will be released into open water. 
Moreover, its native range extends from the Yangtze basin in central 
China northward into the Amur basin and some of its northern 
tributaries. Its lower thermal limit is 0 deg. C. That two documented 
specimens were captured by angling from the St. Johns River near 
Sanford, Florida, and another taken by electrofishing in a pond in 
central Massachusetts is evidence that this fish is being released.
    The likelihood and magnitude of spread would be high for all 
species within their thermal limits. Both the northern snakehead, 
Channa argus, and, to a somewhat lesser extent, the blotched snakehead, 
C. maculata, expanded their ranges of distribution from sites of 
initial introduction in Japan. Since introduction of the northern 
snakehead into the Aral Sea basin in the 1960s, there has been a 
dramatic range expansion in waters of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and 
Uzbekistan. Range expansion also occurred in the Philippines following 
introduction of the chevron snakehead, C. striata. As discussed above 
in the Biology section, there are few waters in the United States or 
territories of the United States that, based on temperature, would 
preclude some member(s) of the family Channidae from becoming 
established.
    At all life stages, snakeheads will compete for food with native 
species. As discussed above in the Biology section, snakehead fry feed 
on zooplankton; juveniles feed on insect larvae, small crustaceans, and 
fry of other fishes; and adults are predators, feeding on other fishes, 
crustaceans, frogs, smaller reptiles (snakes, lizards), and sometimes 
birds (particularly young waterfowl) and mammals. Through predation, 
ecosystem balance could be modified drastically should snakeheads 
become established in waters with low diversity of native fishes and 
low abundance or absence of native predatory species.
    While the potential for snakeheads to transfer pathogens to native 
wildlife is largely unknown, all snakehead species examined are host to 
at least several species of parasites. At least two snakehead species, 
Channa punctata and C. striata, are susceptible to epizootic ulcerative 
syndrome (EUS), a disease believed to be caused by several species of 
bacteria, a fungus, and perhaps a retrovirus, under intensive culture 
conditions. EUS is not specific to snakeheads and has affected other 
fishes, such as clariid catfishes, bagrid catfishes, two cyprinid 
genera, mastacembalid eels, and a nandid fish in India; in Thailand, it 
has been found in giant gourami and climbing perch. There have been no 
studies undertaken to examine transfer of parasites or diseases to 
native North American fishes.
    Due to the highly predatory nature of snakeheads, the likelihood 
and magnitude of effect on threatened and endangered species is high. 
Of all the taxa listed as endangered or threatened in U.S. aquatic 
habitats, 16 amphibians, 115 fishes, and 5 of the 21 crustaceans (the 
surface-dwelling crayfish and shrimp) would be the most likely to be 
affected. Based on habitat requirements and life history, fishes are 
more likely to be affected by introduced snakeheads than amphibians and 
the surface-dwelling crustaceans. Nonetheless, the possibility of an 
additional nonindigenous predator in the aquatic

[[Page 48862]]

community with any listed amphibian or crustacean would constitute a 
threat.
    In the western United States, habitat requirements of listed fishes 
range from steep-gradient, coldwater mountain streams, lower-gradient 
large desert rivers, to thermal (warm) springs in desert areas. Eastern 
fishes likewise occupy a variety of habitats, including springs, 
creeks, large rivers, and the Great Lakes. One or more species of 
snakeheads would be capable of living in any of the above habitats. 
Since all snakehead species prey on fish, to a greater or lesser 
extent, all of the fishes listed as endangered or threatened would be 
vulnerable to predation at some stage in their life history. The degree 
of threat would vary from extremely high for any species of snakeheads 
introduced in relatively small, isolated habitats, such as desert 
thermal springs and their outflows in the American southwest, to 
somewhat less in steep-gradient coldwater mountain streams. Based on 
the food habits and habitat preferences of snakeheads, it is likely to 
invade the habitat, feed on, and further threaten Federally listed 
freshwater fishes. Snakeheads are likely to also further threaten 
numerous other potential candidates for Federal protection.
    The likelihood that one or more species may be placed in danger of 
extinction or become endangered within the foreseeable future as a 
result of introduction/establishment is high. The introduction of a 
small number of individuals (5) into isolated spring habitats could 
result in the extinction of endemic spring-adapted fishes or 
crustaceans. The snakeheads would not have to establish a reproducing 
population to reduce or eliminate a fish or crustacean species confined 
to a small section of a stream or isolated spring habitat. A small 
number of snakeheads introduced, but not established, in a stream or 
lake would likely have less of an impact. However, any snakehead that 
becomes established in a water body would represent a significant 
threat and could potentially put any listed amphibian, fish, or 
crustacean at risk of extinction.
    The likelihood and magnitude of ancillary wildlife resource damage 
due to control measures is high. Chemical control using rotenone or 
other similar toxins would likely be damaging to non-target organisms.
    Only one species of snakehead, Channa micropeltes, a tropical/
subtropical species, is reported to have attacked human beings. There 
have been reports of human deaths as a result. All such incidents 
apparently happened when humans approached a nest or group of young, 
and attacks were perpetrated by guarding adults. Therefore, the 
likelihood and magnitude of direct impacts on human beings is low.

Factors That Reduce or Remove Injuriousness

    The ability and effectiveness of measures to prevent escape or 
establishment of snakeheads are low. As discussed above, the pathways 
for introduction include intentional and unintentional releases from 
the live food fish trade and aquarists. All but the smallest snakeheads 
are unsuitable for community tanks, and even they may kill other fishes 
in aquaria. Some outgrow their tanks, and the tendency of aquarium 
hobbyists has been to release fish into open waters rather than killing 
a pet (Courtenay and Hensley, 1980; Courtenay and Stauffer, 1991; 
Courtenay and Williams, 1992; Courtenay, 1993; OTA, 1993). The 
availability of live snakeheads increases the probability of 
introductions to create localized sources of live fish for live food 
fish markets and probably encourages some entrepreneurs to consider 
culturing these species within the continental United States. 
Additionally, the likelihood of individuals traveling relatively short 
distances over land or being swept into other water bodies by flooding 
is high.
    The ability to eradicate or control snakehead populations depends 
on where they are found. If established in large lakes or river 
systems, eradication and/or control is expected to be nearly 
impossible, and they would likely become permanent members of the fish 
community. Control in smaller water bodies depends upon the amount of 
vegetation, the accessibility to the water body, and the effectiveness 
of the control methods. When a population is discovered, it is 
typically too late for removal unless the population is isolated. 
Additionally, controlling the spread of pathogens once they have been 
introduced in the wild is practically impossible.
    There is no known method of removing all snakeheads following 
introduction. Piscicides work by preventing fish from removing oxygen 
from the water. Chemical control using rotenone and similar toxins 
would likely be ineffective to airbreathing snakeheads and damaging to 
nontarget organisms except in closed situations. Electrofishing and 
netting may provide some level of control of snakehead populations; 
however, eradication using these methods would be too selective on size 
classes to remove a population of snakeheads.
    Since effective measures to eradicate, manage, or control the 
spread of snakeheads once they are established are not currently 
available, the ability to rehabilitate or recover ecosystems disturbed 
by the species is low. Significant risks associated with snakehead 
release relate to endangerment and extinction of native amphibians, 
fishes, and crustaceans. Re-establishment of extirpated populations, if 
biologically possible, would be labor and cost intensive and would 
depend on eradication of snakeheads within those habitats.
    Because snakeheads are likely to escape or be released into the 
wild; are likely to survive or become established if they escape or are 
released; are likely to spread since there are no known limiting 
factors; are likely to compete with native species for food; may 
transmit parasites to native species; are likely to feed on native 
species, which will negatively affect native fishes, amphibians, 
crustaceans, birds, small reptiles, and small mammals; and because it 
will be difficult to prevent, eradicate, manage, or control the spread 
of snakeheads; and because it will be difficult to rehabilitate or 
recover ecosystems disturbed by the species, the Service finds 
snakeheads to be injurious to the wildlife and wildlife resources of 
the United States.

Required Determinations

Paperwork Reduction Act

    Currently we have approval from OMB to collect information under 
OMB control number 1018-0092. This approval expires July 31, 2004. We 
may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, 
a collection of information unless we display a currently valid OMB 
control number.

Regulatory Planning and Review

    In accordance with the criteria in Executive Order 12866, the 
Office of Management and Budget has determined that this rule is not a 
significant regulatory action.
    (a) This rule will not have an annual economic effect of $100 
million or adversely affect an economic sector, productivity, jobs, the 
environment, or other units of the government. A cost-benefit and 
economic analysis is not required.
    The net economic effect of prohibiting the importation of 
snakeheads is difficult to determine because of the minimal amount of 
data available for a relatively new species to the import trade. There 
is a trade-off between damage avoided by not letting snakeheads get 
into U.S. water bodies

[[Page 48863]]

and the economic benefits received by fish markets and aquarium owners 
who want to own the species. Since only $85,000 worth of snakeheads 
were imported during the four-year period between 1997 and 2000, and 
the potential damage that could be done by snakeheads if they get into 
U.S. waters would be in the millions of dollars from the loss of native 
species, including threatened and endangered species, this rule will 
have a net positive benefit. The dollar amount of imported value is not 
the net economic value of this fish, but the relatively small amount of 
imported value compared to environmental damage avoided by prohibiting 
these species is convincing that this rule will not have a major 
negative economic effect.
    (b) This rule will not create inconsistencies with other agencies. 
This rule pertains only to regulations promulgated by the Fish and 
Wildlife Service under the Lacey Act. No other agencies are involved in 
these regulations.
    (c) This rule will not materially affect entitlements, grants, user 
fees, loan programs, or the rights or obligations of their recipients. 
This rule does not affect entitlement programs. This rule is aimed at 
regulating the importation and movement of non-indigenous species that 
have the potential to cause significant economic and other impacts on 
natural resources.
    (d) This rule does not raise novel legal or policy issues. No 
previous listings of wildlife as injurious have raised legal or policy 
concerns.

Regulatory Flexibility Act and SBREFA

    This rule will not have a significant economic effect on a 
substantial number of small entities as defined under the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.). A Regulatory Flexibility 
Analysis is not required. Accordingly, a Small Entity Compliance Guide 
is not required. The rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), 
the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. This rule will 
not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more, and 
does not have significant adverse effects on competition, employment, 
investment productivity, innovation, or the ability of U.S.-based 
enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises.
    No individual small industry within the United States will be 
significantly affected if snakehead importation and interstate 
transport are prohibited. Live food fish markets, restaurants, and 
aquarium hobbyists are the entities most likely to be affected by this 
rule. The number of aquarium hobbyists interested in keeping snakeheads 
appears to be small, and snakeheads represent a minor component in the 
aquarium fish industry (Marshall Myers, pers. comm.. to J.D. Williams). 
With only 16,554 individual snakeheads imported over four years and 
most of these going to restaurants for human consumption, the number of 
entities engaging in selling and buying these fish is very small. There 
is no recreational fishery for these species. The number of entities 
involved in the trade of these species is not known, but it is assumed 
to be very small because of the small number of these fish imported. 
This rulemaking will have the indirect effect of protecting native 
fishes, amphibians, and crustaceans from the intentional or accidental 
introduction of snakeheads into U.S. water bodies. The snakeheads would 
likely devastate many native wildlife populations if introduced into a 
waterway. It is very unlikely that this rulemaking will affect a 
substantial number of small entities and those entities affected will 
not be significantly affected because of the very small numbers of 
these fish imported. This rulemaking, by protecting the environment 
from the spread of a nonnative species that would devastate native 
fishes, amphibians, and crustaceans, will indirectly work to sustain 
the economic benefits enjoyed by numerous small establishments engaged 
in the recreational fishing industry, among others.
    This rule will not cause a major increase in costs or prices for 
consumers, individual industries, Federal, State, or local government 
agencies, or geographic regions. This rulemaking will not affect costs 
or prices for any fish species other than snakeheads. If the species 
are found injurious, and importation and interstate movement are 
banned, the maximum loss would be approximately $22,000 per year to the 
few entities that deal in these species.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    In accordance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 
et seq.), the rule will not ``significantly or uniquely'' affect small 
governments. A Small Government Agency Plan is not required. The 
Service has determined and certifies pursuant to the Unfunded Mandates 
Reform Act that this rulemaking will not impose a cost of $100 million 
or more in any given year on local or State governments or private 
entities; will not produce a Federal mandate of $100 million or greater 
in any year and therefore, is not a ``significant regulatory action''.

Takings

    In accordance with Executive Order 12630, the rule does not have 
significant takings implications. A takings implication assessment is 
not required. This rule will not impose significant requirements or 
limitations on private property use.

Federalism

    In accordance with Executive Order 13132, the rule does not have 
significant Federalism effects. A Federalism assessment is not 
required. This rule will not have substantial direct effects on States, 
in the relationship between the Federal Government and the States, or 
on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various 
levels of government. Therefore, in accordance with Executive Order 
13132, we determine that this rule does not have sufficient Federalism 
implications to warrant the preparation of a Federalism Assessment.

Civil Justice Reform

    In accordance with Executive Order 12988, the Office of the 
Solicitor has determined that the rule does not unduly burden the 
judicial system and meets the requirements of sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) 
of the Executive Order. The proposed rule has been reviewed to 
eliminate drafting errors and ambiguity, was written to minimize 
litigation, provides a clear legal standard for affected conduct rather 
than a general standard, and promotes simplification and burden 
reduction.

NEPA

    We have reviewed this rule in accordance with the criteria of the 
National Environmental Policy Act and our Departmental Manual in 516 
DM. This rule does not constitute a major Federal action significantly 
affecting the quality of the human environment. An environmental impact 
statement/assessment is not required. The action is categorically 
excluded under the Department's NEPA procedures (516 DM 2, Appendix 
1.10), which apply to policies, directives, regulations, and guidelines 
of an administrative, legal, technical, or procedural nature; or the 
environmental effects of which are too broad, speculative, or 
conjectural to lend themselves to meaningful analysis and will be 
subject later to the NEPA process, either collectively or on a case-by-
case basis.

Tribal Consultation

    In accordance with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994, 
``Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal

[[Page 48864]]

Governments'' (59 FR 22951), Executive Order 13175, and 512 DM 2, we 
have evaluated potential effects on Federally recognized Indian tribes 
and have determined that there are no potential effects. This rule 
involves the importation and interstate movement of live snakeheads.

Effects on Energy

    On May 18, 2001, the President issued Executive Order 13211 on 
regulations that significantly affect energy supply, distribution, and 
use. Executive Order 13211 requires agencies to prepare Statements of 
Energy Effects when undertaking certain actions. Because this proposal 
is intended to prevent the accidental or intentional introduction of 
snakeheads and the possible subsequent establishment of populations of 
these fish in the wild, it is not a significant regulatory action under 
Executive Order 12866 and is not expected to significantly affect 
energy supplies, distribution, and use. Therefore, this action is a not 
a significant energy action and no Statement of Energy Effects is 
required.
    This notice solicits economic, biological, or other information 
concerning snakeheads of the family Channidae. The information will be 
used to determine if this family of fishes is a threat, or potential 
threat, to those interests of the United States delineated above, and 
thus warrants addition to the list of injurious fish in 50 CFR 16.13.

Public Comments Solicited

    Please send comments to Chief, Division of Environmental Quality, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 322, 
Arlington, VA 22030. Comments may be hand delivered or faxed to (703) 
358-1800. If you submit comments by e-mail, please submit comments as 
an ASCII file format and avoid the use of special characters and 
encryption. Please include ``Attn: [RIN 1018-AI36]'' and your name and 
return address in your e-mail message. Please note that this email 
address will be closed at the termination of this public comment 
period.
    Our practice is to make comments, including names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular 
business hours. Individual respondents may request that we withhold 
their home address from the rulemaking record, which we will honor to 
the extent allowable by law. In some circumstances, we would withhold 
from the rulemaking record a respondent's identity, as allowable by 
law. If you wish us for to withhold your name and/or address, you must 
state this prominently at the beginning of your comment. However, we 
will not consider anonymous comments. We will make all submissions from 
organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying 
themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or 
businesses, available for public inspection in their entirety. Due to 
the highly predatory nature of these fishes and the inability to 
control them and therefore the need for rapid regulatory action, the 
public comment period has been limited to 30 days.

Clarity of the Rule

    Executive Order 12866 requires each agency to write regulations 
that are easy to understand. We invite your comments on how to make 
this rule easier to understand including answers to questions such as 
the following: (1) Are the requirements in this rule clearly stated? 
(2) Does the rule contain technical language or jargon that interferes 
with the clarity? (3) Does the format of the rule (grouping and order 
of sections, use of headings, paragraphing, etc.) aid or reduce its 
clarity? (4) Is the description of the rule in the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section of the preamble helpful in understanding the rule? 
What else could we do to make the rule easier to understand?
    Send a copy of any written comments about how we could make this 
rule easier to understand to: Office of Regulatory Affairs, Department 
of the Interior, Room 7229, 1849 C Street NW., Washington, DC 20240. 
You may also e-mail comments to Exsec@ios.doi.gov.

References Cited

    A complete list of all references cited in this rule is available 
upon request from the Division of Environmental Quality (see FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 16

    Fish, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, 
Transportation, Wildlife.

    Accordingly, we propose to amend part 16, subchapter B, of Chapter 
I, Title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations as set forth below.

PART 16--[AMENDED]

    1. The authority citation continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 18 U.S.C. 42.

    2. Amend Sec. 16.13 by revising paragraph (a)(2) to read as 
follows:


Sec. 16.13  Importation of live or dead fish, mollusks, and 
crustaceans, or their eggs.

    (a) * * *
    (2) The importation, transportation, or acquisition of any live 
fish or viable eggs of the walking catfish, family Clariidae; live 
mitten crabs, genus Eriochei, or their viable eggs; live mollusks, 
veligers, or viable eggs of zebra mussels, genus Dreissena; and any 
live fish or viable eggs of the snakehead, Family Channidae, is 
prohibited except as provided under the terms and conditions set forth 
in Sec. 16.22.
* * * * *

    Dated: July 22, 2002.
Paul Hoffman,
Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 02-19016 Filed 7-25-02; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-U