A HAMBURG, ILLINOIS man has been charged with possession and distribution of live bighead and silver carp, a felony under United States law.
On October 7, 2014, Randall E. Watters was arrested and charged in Calhoun County in the state’s southwest for the unlawful possession and sale of more than 1,800 pounds of Asian bighead and silver carp.
Watters was charged with the Unlawful Sale of a Live Injurious Species which is a Class 3 felony. It carries a penalty of two to five years imprisonment followed by a year of mandatory supervised release, in addition to fines or restitution of up to $25,000. The charge of Unlawful Possession of a Live Injurious Species is listed as a Class A Misdemeanour that’s still punishable by up to one year in prison and fines or restitution reaching $2,500.
Ronald D. Watters of Hamburg, Illinois was also ticketed for possession of live bighead carp.
“Commercial fishermen play a key role in our efforts to control Asian carp, and we make every provision to allow them to deliver fresh product to processing plants,” said Marc Miller, Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
“However, our Conservation Police Officers take the job of preventing the spread of invasive species seriously, and anyone who attempts to transport or sell live Asian carp will be cited.”
Illinois is at the forefront of national efforts to contain Asian carp and prevent it from reaching Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes watershed. The invasive fish is currently kept at bay by a series of electric fences, locks and dams erected by the Army Corps of Engineers several dozen miles south of Chicago on the Chicago Sanitary and Shipping Canal.
Calhoun County stretches long and narrow like a musical note on Illinois’ border with Missouri just north of St. Louis. It’s western border is the Mississippi River. With a population of just over 5,000, it’s the state’s third least populous county. As of 2010, the county’s per capita income was $23,109, below the U.S. average per capita income of $27,334 and ranked 53 of 102 in statewide income levels.
Bighead, silver and black carp are all listed as injurious species either by the state (in the case of bighead and silver) or by the federal government (in the case of black carp). Illinois rules governing the transportation or illegal sale of invasive species such as Asian carp can be found in detail here.
According to Illinois Department of Natural Resources, state law dictates that “fish are considered to be live if they are held in a container with water, are held in a solution of salt, electrolyte, or other substance, or combination to promote health or longevity.” Breaking the law comes when anyone acts to keep the fish alive once caught.
Chris McCloud, spokesman for the Illinois DNR, told Reeves Report since the matter is in the hands of the local state’s attorney’s office that neither he nor the Conservation Officers who made the bust are able to comment.