A wholesale fish dealer has become the first-ever person in Wisconsin to be prosecuted for the illegal sale of the invasive Asian carp.
The Wisconsin DNR announced this week that Ping Li, the co-owner and sole operator of Li Fish Farm in rural Platteville, western Wisconsin, was found guilty of two misdemeanors and 17 forfeiture violations following a plea deal, and has been fined more than $13,000.
The DNR says that Li's illegal fish activities had been going on for several years before a complaint from a resident sparked an investigation in 2018.
Officials found that in 2018 alone, Li sold and transported more than 9,000 pounds of completely intact invasive carp, which includes bighead, silver, and grass carp.
These species of carp differ from the Germany/common carp that has lived in Wisconsin since the mid-1800s, with the Wisconsin DNR saying they are highly invasive and can destroy native fish habitats.
Bighead carp feeds on plankton, the primary food for walleye, yellow perch, and lake whitefish, while silver and grass carp feed on aquatic habitats, with the former known to leap out of the water ("a threat to boaters") and the latter helping to cause algae blooms.
Under Wisconsin state law, invasive carp must either be gutted, or have the entire gill covering severed, which ensures the fish cannot be revived, requirements that exist because the carp can survive out of water for up to a day or longer.
The DNR says Li used an unmarked refrigerated van to transport and deliver most of the illegal carp, "making it difficult to identify it as a wholesale fish dealer vehicle."
His 19 convictions include possession of illegal fish with a value over $300, and improper transport of Asian carp.