Given how many crappies there are in North America, it seems a little odd at first that they are illegal to sell. After all, crappie is one of the most abundant fish that can be found in most freshwater lakes, streams, and rivers. And while you can fish for crappie the year-round, selling them is another matter as it is illegal to do so.
It’s important to remember what crappie are and how they are regulated which is why they are not found at your local fish market or restaurant.
What is Crappie?
Belonging to the genus, Pomoxis, crappie are a panfish that’s part of the Centrarchidae family. It’s also one of the tastiest freshwater fish in all of North America, which is why they are so popular. The term panfish applies to crappie because they are relatively thin and small, but also because they taste even better when fried in a pan.
Although popular, crappie is somewhat more difficult to catch compared to typical freshwater fish. This is because they have a thin membrane that surrounds the mouth which makes it more difficult to get in a hook. Still, that has not stopped crappie from being a popular fish to catch and enjoy. But if you want to enjoy eating crappie, you are going to have to catch it yourself.
Why is it Illegal to Sell Crappie
It may seem odd that crappie, which is considered edible by the FDA and is considered quite tasty should be illegal to sell. The answer is quite simple. Crappie is classified as a wild species, which means you can fish or hunt for them. However, you cannot harvest them like you can with some other types of fish.
Being illegal in terms of sales, crappie cannot be served in restaurants when they are harvested. This is because while crappie is considered safe to eat, they may have consumed contaminants that are found in unregulated water. Such laws apply to many more species beyond crappie, but this is the main one. It’s important to remember that it is not really the crappie, but rather the fact that they are raised in unregulated water.
You may wonder why crappie cannot be raised in farms that have regulated water supplies. That is legal under the law. However, unlike many other species of fish, crappie is quite voracious and the cost of raising them in such a manner far exceeds the price they fetch on the market. The fact that crappie produces tens of thousands of eggs during spawning season is actually counterproductive to raising them in a controlled environment.
Crappie tends to eat their own eggs along with anything else that is part of the food chain. It doesn’t take long for crappie to clear out all the food available in a pond, so feeding them requires considerable resources as they consume their own young.
Unless something changes, do not expect to find crappie on the menu at your local restaurant. As long as crappie are classified as a wild species and it’s not practical to raise them in a controlled environment, they will remain illegal to sell to the general public.