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  1. #1
    AC Partner Reef Crew's Avatar
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    Sep 2003



    ISSUE: The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health
    Inspection Service (APHIS) announced it would consider two petitions
    requesting the addition of either (1) the genus Caulerpa or (2)the entire
    species of Caulerpa taxifolia to the APHIS list of noxious weeds.

    WHAT IT MEANS: If successfully listed as a noxious weed the trade of
    in the United States would effectively end as one would need a permit to
    transport it. This also potentially means that the trade in live rock would
    also be banned as live rock might be considered 'infested' with Caulerpa.

    WHAT YOU NEED TO DO: Comments from the ornamental aquatics industry are
    needed now to ensure that the USDA does not ban safe algae as well as LIVE
    ROCK without a sound scientific justification. See below on how to submit
    comments and what points to consider in your submission. Comments are due
    Dec. 27, 2004.

    BACKGROUND: The International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA) and
    Professor Susan L. Williams, University of California-Davis submitted two
    petitions to the USDA APHIS requesting the listing of either the whole genus
    Caulerpa or the entire species Caulerpa taxifolia to the APHIS list of
    noxious weeds. These petitions were also signed by 104 invasive species
    scientists and resource managers.

    The USDA announcement at contains copies of
    the key documents.

    Federal Register Notice

    Petitioners argue that regulating (or, "listing") the genus Caulerpa or the
    entire species C. taxifolia is scientifically sound given the presence of
    multiple exceptionally invasive and highly variable forms in these groups;
    the difficulty in identifying the single, currently regulated strain of this
    species by eye; the frequency with which species are being co-mingled, sold,
    and distributed in the United States and the world; and evidence that many
    shipments of algae and other aquarium plants are neither identified
    nor labeled accurately. They argue that allowing import of only those
    deemed non-invasive (which in their opinion means no species of Caulerpa) is
    the only effective way to regulate these marine algae.

    Exhibits accompanying the petitions indicated that several importers
    to Caulerpa as "Algae green/in bags," "Grape algae," Algae Red," -- in most
    instances the proper scientific names were included while some simply
    indicated "Caulerpa Spec on Scleractinia." Petitioners claim that most
    retailers had no idea of the species they handle and that "live rock" is a
    major pathway despite the fact that the only surveys conducted did not find
    any Caulerpa taxifolia on the live rock.

    It should be noted that the strain C. taxifolia (Mediterranean clone) or
    noted in the petitions as "C. taxifolia MC" is currently banned from import
    into the US as well as in the State of California which has the support of
    the industry. 8 other Caulerpa species are prohibited in California due to
    being "look-alikes" or species where some data indicated potential problems
    in California waters.

    MAIN MESSAGE: Your comments to the USDA APHIS should state that they not
    approve either petition at this time. Rather the USDA APHIS should work
    within the framework of the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force's
    inter-agency "National Management Plan for the Genus Caulerpa," currently in
    its final stages of approval.

    Other points are that the petitions fail to contain scientific or other
    evidence justifying wholesale listing of an entire genus or the species C.
    taxifolia and USDA should defer any action pending the receipt of reliable
    data. As noted in the petitions C. taxifolia occurs as a native species in
    parts of Hawaii and Florida and is not considered invasive thus any
    contention that C. taxifolia is "naturally" an invasive species that wipes
    out huge areas of native species is clearly false.

    Secondly, again as noted in the petition, the C. taxifolia that is
    invasive in the Mediterranean "apparently underwent a genetic change while
    being maintained in aquaria" and "this change is hypothesized to contribute
    to its invasiveness." If this is true, as claimed, then the chances of C.
    taxifolia from other areas around the World which have not been exposed to
    long-term aquarium conditions (meaning Caulerpa on live rock etc.) having
    undergone genetic change to become invasive is scientifically remote.

    Thirdly, as noted on the web page of Dr. Susan Williams
    ( species of Caulerpa
    commonly grow in many tropical marine waters around the world and remain in
    the understory of seagrass beds which can outcompete Caulerpa. Thus, by her
    own admission Caulerpa is not a renegade species of algae bent on carpeting
    the ocean floor which is how her petition reads.

    Fourthly, peer-reviewed and published research has shown that the extent of
    the Caulerpa invasion in the Mediterranean has been overstated by an order
    magnitude or more and the establishment of Caulerpa in a seagrass bed does
    not automatically mean the demise of the seagrasses. All these points and
    more demonstrate that there is no scientific evidence to support the listing
    of the entire species or genus as a noxious weed. More research is required
    as called for in the draft National Management Plan before listing.

    DEADLINE: The comment period closes on December 27, 2004

    ACTION: Submit written comments.

    * Mail: send four copies of your comment (an original and three copies) to
    Docket No. 04-037-1, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS,
    3C71, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.

    Make sure to state that your comment refers to Docket No. 04-037-1.

    * E-mail: Address your comment to < >. Include
    your name, address, "Docket No. 04-037-1'" in the subject line, and your
    comment in the body of your message. Do not include any attached files.

    * On line comments can be submitted and viewed via the agency web site: Go
    Your Source For Live Marine Food

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Sep 2003
    This was extensively discussed over on RC about 6 weeks ago if people want more info. I think the prevailing view was that it was not going to get approved and wouldn't have a wide impact even if approved.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Fisherman's Avatar
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    Apr 2003
    I agree with nickb.. from what i've read aswell..

  4. #4
    AC Partner Reef Crew's Avatar
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    Sep 2003
    I guess I missed it on RC, Sorry for the repost of known Information.
    Your Source For Live Marine Food

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    Aug 2003
    This is nothing new. It has been going on for quite a few years with the Caulerpa genus. Nothing has ever happened yet. My opinion is I don't really care if it's banned or not because Caulerpas should not even be used for aquariums. It was a mistake from the get go as there are many other types of macros that are much better suited for use in our systems. The LR thing though is another story.

  6. #6
    Senior Member steve666's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    "Caulerpas should not even be used for aquariums"

    why is that toutouche? what others are more suitable and where can they be aquired?
    We need more Indians!

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2003


    because they can go asexual fast and can release the pollution/nutrients right back into the water. theres also some talk about them releasing chemicals to compete for space and this may inhibit coral growth. Greg has more info on this.

  8. #8
    Senior Member steve666's Avatar
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    Sep 2004
    Does this include caulerpas in the sump also?
    We need more Indians!

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    yes. I used them for a year and never had a problem but doesn't mean it couldn't happen. many have had it go asexual.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Johnny is right. Caulerpas are generally very unstable for the reasons he mentioned. There ar many better types suited..., one being Chaetomorpha sp. ( commonly known as Spaghetti algae). This type never goes sexual, does not attach to anything so it is way easier to harvest and does not release toxins when pulled apart to remove some from the water. It basically looks like green steelwool and the various critters like it even more because it is great for hiding in and crawling aroud in without being seen. Do a search on wetwebmedia about algaes in the aquarium.
    Also, the book called
    "Reef Invertabrates" by Anthony Calfo & Robert Fenner have a whole chapter on this exact topic with recommendations of other better suited types in great detail.

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