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The Lacey Act Amendments

Updated: Sep 28, 2023

In this article we will be talking about the Lacey Act amendments which would potentially harm the pet hobby as well as the industry.


What is the Lacey Act?

The Lacey Act was enacted in 1900 and is a United States law that bans trafficking of fish, wildlife or plants that have been illegally taken, possessed, transported or sold. The Act makes it illegal to import said organisms without proper declaration.

To further explain this law, it was created to help protect endangered species, smuggling, illegal sourcing, and harm to native ecosystems. Certain animals that are being brought in, kept or sold to need proper paper work and declaration in order to obtain said animal or plant.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service administer the act. These organizations are of a national or federal level but each state has it's own Fish and Wildlife Service.

The USFWS has a list os species that are injurious.


What is injurious?

The USFWS define this as:

“Any invasive species of animal or plant that has been introduced into a new area, where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy or human/animal/plant health."

Anything on this list is illegal to poses or sell.


The America COMPETES Act 2022

This act is basically to help strengthen the US economy. It is an acronym for Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology and Economic Strength.

It includes:

  • provides funding for the domestic production of semiconductors;

  • requires the federal government to undertake efforts related to cybersecurity, defense procurements, and inflation;

  • modifies the Department of Homeland Security's activities, including by requiring domestic sources for certain procurements;

  • sets out financial regulations for cannabis-related businesses and revises other aspects of the financial system;

  • imposes liability on certain e-commerce platforms for third-party trademark infringement, changes immigration provisions that apply to, for example, entrepreneurs;

  • expands premerger notification requirements;

  • revises ocean shipping provisions; and

  • requires the Small Business Administration to issue guidance for childcare operators.


How does it affect the pet hobby?

Hidden within this Act are amendments to the Lacey Act which affects all non-domesticated animal/pet (animals other than dogs, cats and farm animals) owners and businesses.

The amendments would ban interstate transportation of species listed as injurious under the Lacey Act.

The amendments are as follow:

  • Provide that the Lacey Act bans the interstate transport of species listed as injurious. Specifically, it replaces Lacey’s current language ‘‘shipment between the continental United States’’ with ‘‘transport between the States.”

  • Create a “white list” of species that can be imported. This means that any animal (reptile, amphibian, fish, bird, mammal) that is not on the white list is by default treated as potentially injurious and is banned from importation.

  • Create a new authority allowing FWS to use an “emergency designation” that becomes effective immediately after being published in the Federal Register unless an extension of no more than 60 days is allowed. That means no due process, public input, hearings, advanced notice, etc. for injurious listings.

  • Permit FWS to not allow importation if a species has not been imported in “minimal quantities” (to be defined) in the year prior to the enactment of this Act.

  • The effective date would be one year after the enactment of this Act.

This will drastically affect not only the pet hobby but the pet industry as well. Something the America COMPETES Act is supposed to help in regards to improving the economy.

What can we do?

The last update indicated that the act has passed the House of Representatives and is to be voted on by Congress.

Contact your state representatives and bring these amendments to their attention and tell them why you disagree with them and why they should vote no.

Checkout this video by our very own Prof. FishTanks discussing these amendments!



Form to help contact your representative:

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