May / June, 2010

PondTradeMag-May-Jun-10Publishers’ Perspective

What’s a white list, and why should I be concerned?

Texas legislators are finalizing new laws that dramatically slash the number of aquatic plants that can be grown and sold in the State. If you don’t sell aquatic plants, and think this doesn’t impact you THINK AGAIN. Look at the brochures used to sell ponds and pond products, and you will nearly always see water lilies, taro, and other popular aquatic plants. The reason is that they are a critical part of the pond vision for a large portion of pond keepers. If the plants they want are no longer available, many will no longer want a pond. This impacts us all, whether we sell fish or hardware, pond service or water treatments. We will all see a dramatic drop in sales.

Now some of you may be saying, “Oh Tom. Don’t get all dramatic on us. It can’t really be that bad.” Believe me, IT IS. Here is what is happening.

The Texas Legislature is ending the long-standing policy of keeping what is known as a Black List of plants that are considered noxious or invasive, preventing their sale in the state. They are instead instituting a White List of approved plants that can be sold. To get a plant on the list requires formal approval. The very short new White list is made up, almost exclusively, of plants that are native to Texas. Conspicuously lacking are the majority of aquatic plants currently being sold in the state. For example, if this ruling stands, the hundreds of hybrid water lilies that are the foundation of the entire aquatic flora business will be banned. The only water lilies on the White List are native (ugly) varieties.

Instead of being able to offer hundreds of water lilies, and literally thousands of other plant varieties to customers, Texas growers and dealers will be limited to only a few hundred of the most mundane Texas native plants.

While this spells disaster for Texas aquatic nurseries, it will have a cascading effect through the rest of the industry soon thereafter, impacting all the related pond products and services. Fish species will be targeted in the same way, as they are in other states now. This kind of legislation threatens us all.

Once these regulations are enacted in Texas, you know the organized proponents (activists) behind these regulations will move on to another state, using their success in Texas as the shining example of progressive thinking for others to follow. This is a nation wide problem and an industry wide problem.

Our industry organizations are now stepping up their activities to build awareness of this threat, including the IPPCA, IWGS, ILS, and NAPP, and they need your support now. I am setting aside an area on our site dedicated to publishing details on this and other legislative actions that threaten our livelihood. You may have gotten my recent email about other legislative problems in New York and Iowa. If you would like to be included in my Legislative Alert mail list, please send me a note at, or and

I will keep you in the loop personally.

It is time for our industry to circle the wagons, and stand up to ill-advised legislation like this. Otherwise more bad laws will follow spreading like, well, noxious weeds.

PS: To see the facts behind what is going on and who is working on the problem now, please visit

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