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TPWD News Release — Sept. 12, 2005

'Dirty Dozen' Prohibited Species Brochure Debuts

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has introduced a new brochure which details prohibited species in the seafood market. The brochure describes the harm to humans and the ecosystem that could result if each of the exotic (non-native) species makes it out into the environment.

For example, in the case of prohibited Tilapia: they may compete with native fish for resources and inhibit reproduction in some native species, and also may destroy vegetation and habitat by digging holes for spawning.

The brochure and companion poster is being distributed to TPWD law enforcement and fisheries offices statewide. Printing was funded through the settlement of a large case involving exotic/prohibited species. TPWD worked closely with the Harris County District Attorney's Office on the project.

A total of 5,000 brochures and 500 posters were printed.

"Posters will be distributed to groceries and markets where there have been problems in the past with these prohibited species. Texas Game Wardens will also distribute them on patrols and in out-reach meetings," said Lance Robinson in Coastal Fisheries who deals with exotic species and works near Houston.

The idea for the project happened when Houston-area game wardens found Asian swamp eels and some prohibited Tilapia, and discovered a huge distribution of water spinach, which is also prohibited but is a staple in the Asian diet. More than a ton was confiscated recently and had been growing for more than a decade, according to investigators. Now water spinach will only be allowed through a permitting process.

"The goal is to try and educate the public about these prohibited items and try to explain WHY they are prohibited," Robinson said.

The species in the new brochure are as follows: Pacific oysters (unless they’ve been shucked), all species of Cynoscion in the drum family except spotted seatrout, snakeheads, freshwater eels (family Anguillidae) except for the native American eel, mitten crabs (family Grapsidae), tilapia not from a TPWD-permitted facility, swamp eels (family Synbranchidae), several members of the Penaeid shrimp family, all species of giant rams-horn snails, water spinach, a number of Asian or Chinese carp species including grass carp, and piranhas. *

For a complete list of prohibited exotic species in Texas, visit For a brochure, visit a TPWD Law Enforcement office or call (512) 389-4864.

* Correction, Sept. 23, 2005: The original version of this paragraph has been corrected for spelling and clarity. (Return to corrected item.)