Fish and Wildlife Service Announces 5-Year Age Limit on Ginseng Exports

In 2006 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it would permit the export of wild and wild-simulated American ginseng that is at least 5 years old.

Agency representatives said the decision was reached after consideration of recent research findings as well as feedback received from dozens of growers, harvesters, and other industry representatives during public meetings held earlier this year. After considering the new information, the agency has determined that lowering the age would not adversely affect the conservation and long-term survival of the plant.

This change in export requirements for wild and wild-simulated ginseng will not affect half a million pounds of cultivated ginseng root that is exported each year, primarily to Asia. Cultivated roots are not subject to the age restriction. However, all exports, including cultivated roots, must be accompanied by a permit issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Ginseng is an herbaceous perennial found in the understory of mixed hardwood forests of the northeastern, midwestern and southeastern United States and in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. It has a life expectancy of at least 60 years, and proponents believe the plant enhances physical and mental activity, increases stamina and vitality, builds resistance to stress and promotes a healthy libido.

Wild and wild-simulated ginseng is exported from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

In 1975, because of the high demand for wild ginseng root, American ginseng was listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a treaty to which the United States and 168 other countries are signatories. An Appendix-II listing means that export permits must be issued by the country of origin stating that a particular shipment for export was legally collected and that the export is not harmful to the survival of that species in the wild. The Service began approving export of ginseng on a state-by-state basis in 1978.

Agency representatives said the Service will continue to work closely with growers, the States and with ginseng industry representatives to encourage continued monitoring of ginseng in the wild as well as assessments of the plant’s populations.

The export requirements could be modified in future years if new information is found.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 81 ecological services field stations.

The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

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