HomeOutdoorsWisconsin Fish Dealer Pleads Guilty to Illegally Selling Nearly 10,000 Pounds of Invasive Carp

Wisconsin Fish Dealer Pleads Guilty to Illegally Selling Nearly 10,000 Pounds of Invasive Carp

by Amy Myers
(Photo by MARLIN LEVISON/Star Tribune via Getty Images)

A Wisconsin fish dealer is in some deep water after circuit courts found him guilty of illegally selling almost 10,000 pounds of carp.

Ping Li, the co-owner and sole operator of Li Fish Farm, LLC, was the subject of a multi-year investigation conducted by the state’s DNR. Since 2018, Wisconsin wildlife officials have looked into the fish dealer’s operations. Now, they’ve determined that this is the state’s “first case involving the illegal sale of invasive silver, grass, and bighead carp to Asian Midway Foods in Madison,” according to Outdoor Life. Li illegally sold more than 9,000 pounds of invasive carp in this year alone.

During the court case, the Platteville fish dealer faced two misdemeanors plus 17 forfeiture violations. This includes a “violation of wholesale fish dealer vehicle ID requirements when transporting fish, possession of illegal fish with a value over $300, improper transport of Asian carp, and failure to keep wholesale fish dealer records.”

The result of the court case was a plea deal. Li to pay $13,000 in fines for his 19 total violations. It is unclear whether Wisconsin authorities revoked or amended his license. However, it is safe to say that the state’s DNR officials will be keeping a closer eye on Li and his fish farm in the future to be sure he follows proper protocol.

Wisconsin DNR Fears Invasive Carp Could Reach Great Lakes

It’s not that Wisconsin doesn’t allow its businesses to sell carp. In fact, carp is an invasive species in the area that has exploded in numbers. The problem lies with how Li handled the fish. Wisconsin law requires fish dealers to gut the fish or sever the gills if they have carp in their possession. Otherwise, the individual risks having the fish escape back into the state’s waterways. They could even make their way into new territories, too.

Currently, many states are battling carp populations in areas like the Mississippi River and in some Wisconsin inland lakes. Carp has not yet reached the Great Lakes. However, this is one of the concerns that DNR has about the illegal sales that Li participated in. Should a couple of these invasive fish reach the waters, there could be a huge change in the ecosystem, threatening the native fish and other organisms that reside there.

Needless to say, officials are cracking down hard on any violators who transport live fish from their operations to stores.

“The laws around the Great Lakes States are in place to minimize the threat of these species finding their way into new waterways at the hands of humans,” Lt. Robert Stroess of the Wisconsin DNR said in a statement. “The laws serve as important protections for our native Wisconsin fish.”