koi ban in Maine?
What the heck is this??
Restaurant Owner Shaken by Koi Seizure
By Associated Press
Tue Jul 25, 3:19 PM
FREEPORT, Maine - Armed game wardens seized 10 exotic fish from the tank of a popular Chinese restaurant, leaving its owner shaken and outraged.
"They treated me like a criminal," said Cuong Ly, who escaped from Vietnam 25 years ago. "I lived under communism and I felt like I'm back there again."
Ly, 45, said his pet koi were like family members and their confiscation in what he described as a heavy-handed raid made him "want to explode inside."
After obtaining a search warrant, two uniformed wardens and a biologist, accompanied by Freeport police, visited China Rose on Wednesday, taking away the 10 fish that ranged in size from 12 to 14 inches (30.5 to 35.5 centimeters).
The koi had been on display since Ly opened the restaurant nearly 15 years ago and he credited them for bringing good luck to the business in a way akin to the arrangement of articles in the ancient Chinese practice of feng shui.
A few years ago, however, Maine outlawed the importation and possession of koi, and Ly was charged with importing freshwater fish without a permit.
"These fish can grow to be very large," said Sgt. Tim Spahr of the Maine Warden Service. "And when they grow out of their indoor habitat, they may be taken to a lake or a river or stream, and what you have is an invasive species that can compete with the native fisheries."
Spahr said wardens had acted in response to a tip but he could not comment on the specifics of Ly's case while it was pending. The warden said he personally had been involved in three koi seizure cases within the past year.
The confiscation, Ly said, followed two days of warden visits to the restaurant in downtown Freeport. On July 17, he said, a warden warned him that the fish were illegal and he could face a big fine.
"We thought they were joking. We had these fish for years and we didn't take them serious," Ly said.
A warden who arrived the next day with a video camera issued Ly a summons.
That incident, according to Ly, came during the business lunch period and he told the warden that he did not have time to talk just then. The warden left, only to return the next morning to confiscate the fish.
"It looked like they were raiding the place for illegal drugs," he said. "They made it seem like a crime scene."
The koi were transported to the Little Shop of Pets in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which agreed to let Ly buy them back.
Ly, which planned to place his koi with a relative in Boston while awaiting the final outcome, said he could not bear losing the fish.
"It's like someone taking your dog or your cat away," he said. "These are like my children. I clean the tank every other week, keep them nice and healthy, clean and happy. As long as the fish are happy, I'm happy, and I do good business."
After the koi were removed, Ly placed another fish species, red parrots, in the restaurant tank because leaving it empty would give him an unlucky feeling.
Even so, he said bad luck struck the restaurant soon after the loss of the koi.
"The central air conditioning went down this weekend," he said. "It's an unlucky feeling already appearing in my business."
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.