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URGENT!!! Sportfishing Under Attack! MUST READ!

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Fellow members, your help is needed to halt federal regulations that WILL HURT

the sportfishing industry. I recieved a disturbing phone call today from a large live

bait distributor in Ohio. He informed me that the USDA has placed an IMMEDIATE

ban on the interstate transport of BAITFISH and GAMEFISH due to the VHS (Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia)

found in wild populations of fish in the Great Lakes. This is a new strain of VHS that was

isolated in June in the St Lawrence River and Irondequoit Bay, which is on the southern shore

of Lake Ontario near Rochester. Other strains of VHS have been found in Pacific herring

on the Pacific coast. This is the FIRST time that the USDA has put a ban on the transport

of fish. I was told today by APHIS ( Animal and Plant Inspection Service) that this measure

could be expanded to include the transport of gamefish in livewells. That would include tournament

angling. The immediate ban was designed to protect the spread of VHS to aquaculture

facilities. I recieved CONFORMATION that there have been NO DOCUMENTED CASES of VHS

in federal,state or private hatcheries. I also have a copy of a letter from the National Aquaculture

Association requesting IMMEDIATE action to prohibit or restrict transport of fish. It just so happens

that two of the LARGEST bait farms located in Arkansas are on the board of directors for

the National Aquaculture Association. All meetings were held in secret with NO PUBLIC or

STAKEHOLDER NOTICE! There is absolutely NO SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE to suggest the spread

of VHS to aquaculture facilities due to the transport of baitfish or gamefish from areas outside

the Great Lakes. The regulations are BROAD and INCLUDE the TRANSPORT of BAITFISH and

GAMEFISH from: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and

Wisconsin. All importation of live fish from the Canadian Provinces of Ontario and Quebec

is PROHIBITED. We know for a fact that the virus does not replicate in temperatures over

15 Celsius, making the spread to warmer states impossible! These regulations are not based

upon scientific FACTS! They could have easily inacted regulations on bodies of water where

the virus has been found, but instead they included ALL BODIES OF WATER IN ALL OF THE ABOVE


The Federal Order was issued on October 16th. Documents can be viewed at:


This matter is SO SERIOUS that the American Sportfishing Association along with a few

other stakeholders will be meeting with the USDA and APHIS tomorrow morning in

Washington D.C.

I will reprint a portion of the letter dated 9/8/06 from the National Aquaculture Association.

"We are requesting that APHIS immediately implement interim measures to control the greatest

POTENTIAL risk vector (distribution of LIVE, infected fish), investigate the sources and scope of

the risks of VHSH transmission to COMMERICAL AQUACUTURE, and evaluate the efficacy of


The specific method of methods of transmission of the virus have YET to be CONCLUSIVELY


LIVE FISH. Therefore, the deminsion of the interim measures need to be carefully considered, and

efforts should be made to PRORITIZE development of controls for the greatest risks of transmission.

Conversely, low risk vectors or fish that can be SHOWN free of the virus should be permitted

ready for passage between states, and scientific methods to confirm such low risks should be


WOW, TALK ABOUT SPECIAL INTEREST!!!!!!!!!!!!  There are 37 species on the Federal list, including

ALL species of BASS!  

I am urging ALL INTERESTED OR CONCERNED sportfishermen to PLEASE contact your US senator

and US congressman. The Federal order states that the "Administrator may also designate other

States or portions thereof as PROHIBITED AREAS UNDER THIS ORDER!  

You can view the letter to from the National Aquaculture Association to the APHIS Administrator

by going to: http/www.nationalaquaculture.org

Several industry stakeholders will challenge this federal order in the federal court system. I have

offered to testify as a scientist on behalf of the sportfishing industry, based upon SCIENTIFIC

FACTS and not on supposition! Please protect our sport, let your VOICE be HEARD!

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I dunno, it sounds like its better to be safe than sorry.

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Here is what you are up against:  a long history of people transporting fishes of all kinds, the end result very often being disaster.  I, for one, am more comfortable with the idea of keeping fish in their home waters as much as possible.  There must be alternative solutions to the probems said ban will cause.

I have personally observed losses in my favorite lake from the introduction of crappies by some nut who thought he could improve things.  Now the bass have to fight for every minnow and the bluegills--ours are of sterling quality--are getting crowded away from their territories and diminishing in number.

Check out the gold fish around the docks in Missouri impoundments.

Have you caught a snakehead fish yet?

"Meditation and water are wedded forever."

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I agree also with this. I live in wisconsin and theres a lot of species up here that never came from here. We have the gobies and zebra musscles in the lake michigan. Sure they came from over seas on boats and in the ballest tanks. But they have just found zebra musscles in a few new lakes just this year. We also have some a new crawdad up here. Due to this carwdad we can't fish live crawdads any more. Also due to all this stuff wisconsin has the tightest laws reguarding live bait and weeds. Up here at almost 99% of boat ramps theres a sign that say clean trailer and boat of any vegation and drain all live wells. Its also agianst the law up here to leave a boat ramp with out doing that. Its also agianst the law up here to dump live bait in to the lake or river your fishing. So like c312 said its better being safe then sorry.

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First off, I want to point out that VHS does NOT pose a threat to humans. The federal ban is

ON NATIVE GAME AND BAITFISH! It does not restrict the species of NON NATIVE

baitfish from aquaculture farms located outside the restricted states. In the northern states

wild baitfish are collected for broodstock, then spawned at hatcheries. Almost all of

the baitfish are native. This BRILLIANT federal order will OPEN the door for Non Native

species of baitfish such as goldfish or "Black Salties" to be brought in from hatcheries

in Arkansas. In otherwords, goldfish, tuffies and other species will be flowing north!

I see no problem with testing bait/gamefish hatcheries, or issuing a ban on the transport of ANY fish

coming out of waters contaminated with VHS, but that is NOT WHAT THE FEDERAL ORDER

SAYS. Just who do you think will pay for the testing and enforcement? The TAXPAYER will

pay for the enforcement, should it stand.

I should add, that two months ago I was contacted by someone with close ties to the New York

DNR. I was told that they are EXTREMELY worried about the outbreaks of Type E Botulisim on

Lake Erie. The numbers of dead waterfowl and fish have significantly increased in the last four

years. Type E Botulisim can be FATAL to humans. Two states have formed a task force to track

the botulism. The CDC has issued a HUMAN health warning. The rare Type E Botulisim is caused

by the ingestion of DEAD ZEBRA MUSSELS by fish. I would much rather the USDA concentrate

their efforts on preventing the continued spread of Type E Botulisim which poses a health threat

to the human population.

These federal regulations are meant to support the BIG aquaculture community at the expense of the

of the small northern hatcheries and anglers. The APIS DVM that I spoke with today, admitted that

large scale aquaculture farms were probably responsible for the first strains of VHS coming out of

Europe, and definately responsible for the LMB (largmouth Bass Virus) here in the US. The federal

order CLEARLY STATES that their interest is to PROTECT COMMERCIAL HATCHERIES! Not Federal

or state hatcheries!

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This is going to affect steelhead, channel cat, and rainbow trout in Ohio.  Also minnows which doesnt affect us that much because of erie.

I think the states are going to do something about but there is a petition going around. :)

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Liquidsoap, Channel Catfish and Rainbow trout are on the list of regulated species.

The regulation states, "If other species are identified as VHS susceptible, the Administrator

will admend this list of regulated species, and will specify the regulated species of live fish on

the APHIS Web site at www.aphis.usda.gov/vs/aqua/"

If you own a private pond or lake you are PROHIBITED from stocking, "regulated species".

Of course you can feel free to stock goldfish, koi, and other ornamental species.

They don't even know how they are going to test for VHS, since the strain is new and testing

procedures are still being developed. To date the US Fish and Wildlife laboratory in La Crosse

WI has conducted the VHS testing on federal hatchery stocks.

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Guest avid

My Goodness Lane, your heading made it sound like PETA was hiring South American death squads to invade Lake Ocheechobee.  ;D

This kind of bureaucratic regulatory nonesense goes on all the time.  Heck, that's their excuse for getting a paycheck.

Bringing it to a more personal level.

Are you still bringing the shiners to Lake Fork? Now, that's something to get shook up about .

If you want my shiners then you'll have to pry them from my cold dead..........

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The rare Type E Botulisim is caused

by the ingestion of DEAD ZEBRA MUSSELS by fish.

wait a minute.

Ok, so zebra mussels are posing a threat. Zebra mussels are also transported to new fisheries very often by the very ways this regulation would ban. So basically, if the reglation had been in place before, maybe zebra mussels may not have been transplanted to so many new places and caused (or potentially will cause) ecological harm to them....That zebra mussel example only makes the proposal sound better.

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Guest the_muddy_man

I thought this was some kinda slicker/PETA attack on our right to fish Now I saw the DEP over react to a rare turtle in the Gulf and practically destroy the LA shrimping industry

But good God they are trying to protect our lakes and streams from a diseased batch of bait fish When they didnt do this 3 years ago and they dumped Ich ladden trout in our local lakes and it traveled all to all the other species of fish everyonhe squawked WE CANT HAVE IT BOTH WAYS

  I am not knowlegable to make these decsions and Im not attacking this thread But isnt this their job to keep an eye on this sort of thing?

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Guys, go read the ban. It is only on native species. Zebra mussels are not part of the

ban. The ban clearly states that farmed species of catfish, bass, baitfish,etc, can be

brought in from other states that are not listed in the domestic ban. You can transport

farmed fish including ICH covered trout from other states. The old saying YOU AIN'T

SEEN NOTHING YET will definately apply! They will introduce all kinds of new pathogens

that will end up in PUBLIC waters. Remember the ban is to protect PRIVATE COMMERCIAL


these diseases that have infected the wild populations of fish came from in the first place?

PRIVATE COMMERCIAL FISH HATCHERIES. They could careless about wild stocks of fish

in public waters. They don't want the public to know about the botulism. The job of the USDA

is to protect the cattle, swine, poultry, fish, etc, industry.

Don't worry Avid, I will bring your shiners. You know the saying, "Don't Mess With Texas".

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Guest the_muddy_man

Hey Lane thnks now i got it IM A LITTLE THICK HEADED SOMETIMES!!!!!!!!

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You should be happy they're doing that, their not ruining the sport their preserving it. Disease runs in a of areas. Every state has a body of water with fish who have such and such a thing. Our goverment is protecting our fisheries.

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Ok, pardon me, but im afraid I dont fully understand what you are saying.

What you are saying kind of makes sense, but could you just give us the facts?

BTW : The link you gave didnt work for me.


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The AHIS/USDA green link works. The link will take you to the APHIS page. On the right

hand side there is a section titled, "Hot Topics", click on "The Federal Order on VHS

(Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia)

Then view the letter in pdf from the National Aquaculture Association to AHIS, by going to


If that link does not work, then just go to www.nationalaquaculture.org

While you are on the National Aquaculture site, go to the officers section. The vice president

and 3 other board members have large bait farms located in Arkansas. I get calls ALL

of the time from bait shops that have purchased bait from two of the listed farms. MANY times

the baitfish are diseased due to overcrowding and unsanitary conditions at these LARGE

farms. Since we are microbiologists, we have traced most of the virolent diseases to the

largests farms located in Arkansas. Don't get me wrong, there are some bait farms in Arkansas

that produce healthy, quality bait.

Do you really want your baitfish and exotic species brought in from the South? Most of the

bait distributors in the North, purchase wild NATIVE broodstock in North Dakota (Not on the list)

and Michigan. NONE OF THEM DEAL IN GOBIES, GOLDFISH or other exotic species.

Pond owners will now be forced to purchase catfish, bass, bluegill, etc, from southern states.

These hatchery game fish will introduce bacteriums, viruses, etc, that the wild northern fish has

no immunity against. With time these pathogens will be introduced into PUBLIC waters.

I am VERY much against the introduction of NON NATIVE species, but the federal order paves

the way for just that. The letter from the National Aquaculture Association, claims that

fishermen may be to blame.

Most scientists,including myself believe that surviving fish will soon develop antibodies to fight

this new stain of virus. Dr. Fasial from the University of Michigan has stated that the new strain

of the VHS is not as deadly as the European strain.

BTW, The only quote, "baitfish", or "feral" fish that has died in large numbers from VHS  is the


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You should be happy they're doing that, their not ruining the sport their preserving it. Disease runs in a of areas. Every state has a body of water with fish who have such and such a thing. Our goverment is protecting our fisheries.

that's what this sounds like to me.

Ok, so I read a little more stuff on this

Apparently they found this virus in the Great Lakes. They think it can be carried and transmitted by baitfish so they stopped all the transport of baitfish from states around the Great Lakes (including baitfish from Canada) in case the infection started within those baitfish hatcheries or in case the fish in the hatcheries are already or might become infected. Lane's comment about bringing up fish from the south is because the virus lives in colder water so I think that's why they are trying to get baitfish from the south's warmer waters (not to mention, why not get baitfish from the south?). And I'm pretty sure a national agency like APHIS knows enough not to introduce a southern baitfish that would be harmful for the Great Lakes, it's their job to know that kind of stuff.


^From what I've read, this new action is trying to keep this from happening to more of our gamefish by eliminating the spread of the virus. If local baitfisheries lose some money, I think it's worth not having to find out what would happen if they didn't play it safe.

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State fisheries biologists and managers speculate that the virus was introduced into

the Great Lakes from ballast tanks of cargo ships, considering a leading source of exotic

species such as the zebra mussel, goby and snakehead. What has the FEDERAL government

done to protect the Great Lakes from the dumping of ballast tanks into the waters of

the Great Lakes?

Yesterday the Associated Press reported in the Boston Globe that the new federal order

could hamper stocking programs essential to the region's $4.5 billion fishery.

"This order will completely eliminate long-established trades of sport fish between state

agencies that are crucial to the maintenance, restoration, and enhancement of sport

fish programs" in the region, Sam Flood acting director of the Illinois DNR, wrote in a

letter to the federal agency". The formal letter can be viewed on the Illinois DNR website.

Gov. Rod R Blojevich of Illinois has condenmed the actions of the USDA. Acting Illinois

DRN director, Sam Flood can be reached at (217) 785-0075. The USDA federal order WILL


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Ok, so you are on the side of the local bait fisheries, the people who stand to lose money if this order remains?

Can I ask what your profession and location are?

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Both myself and my husband are microbiologists that specialize in fish diseases. My

husband has over 24 years of experience with fish diseases. We are located in TEXAS.

We could easliy capitalize on the VHS outbreak. But I like to sleep at nite, and itegrity

is a core value with us. We do not do business with the, "local bait fisheries" in the north.

The big LOSERS in this federal order are the ANGLERS in the northern states. State and

federal stocking programs will cease, food fish and bait fish will cost more,etc. I really

feel for the state biologists and hatchery managers that have worked sooo hard to ensure

that YOU have a quality fishery. Afterall, they have had testing procedures in place for

VHS since June. These same managers have BEGGED Washington to regulate the release

of ballast water into the Great Lakes. This is not about money for me, but about preserving

and conserving what I LOVE, FISHING! Money can't buy the peace of mind that I experience

when I leave my troubles behind, pick up my rod and go fishing!

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If angling is at the core of your concerns, then why are you more focused on the repercussions to the local bait fisheries than you are with the possibility that the actions being taken by the government will actually save fish? The government is taking the "better safe than sorry" route to make sure that they have maintained fishing the best they can.

From your arguments, it sounds like you are saying that what they are doing isn't NECESSARY, but I'd rather take the chance of doing beyond what is necessary to ensure that the fish survive.

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What fish are being saved??? Do you consider state DNR agencies, "local bait fisheries"?

The repercussions go WAY BEYOND, "local bait fisheries".  This is America, you have

a right to your opinions. Let's leave it at that.

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The fish that are being saved are the fish that could potentially get infected by the transportation of wild and raised baitfish. The reason they are restricting the transport of the fish is so that VHS cannot spread. If you don't follow the order they have given, it is possible that VHS will spread to more fish. They didn't do what they did for no reason.

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I am in total agreement with this link on the subject.


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I am in total agreement with this link on the subject.



After reading as much as I can find on this issue, I have come to the conclusion that while I do not understand all of the enviromental and economic consequences of this Federal directive, there is enough information to question whether this action is in the best interests of the fishing community.

The main concern I have is the increased in-flow of fish of all types from out of the region. In an effort to protect the region from one disease, it appears this Federal order may make us more vulnerable to other diseases shipped in from other areas. After reading the Illinois DNR statement it makes sense to me to take a second look at the issue before acting. I am as committed to the "aquaculture" as anyone . I think we must be informed and active if we sportsmen and women are to protect the resources we've been given. I am also cynical enough to believe special interest groups are all to willing to take advantage of any situation that will further their agenda. It makes me a little nervous when the Feds start to micro-manage the affairs of the individual states.

We will not all agree on all the issues, but knowing what the issues are is a good thing. Lane, thank you for your heads-up.


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Perhaps of interest:

ASA Opposes Ban on Interstate Fish Shipments from Great Lakes

Association asks USDA to rescind order banning shipments

Alexandria, VA – November 2, 2006 – The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) opposes the recent ban on interstate shipments of several species of live fish from the Great Lakes. In an October 24, 2006, letter to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Administrator, ASA asked that the ban be rescinded.

“The American Sportfishing Association strongly supports appropriate fish disease prevention and control programs,” said ASA Vice President Gordon Robertson, “but we are concerned that this Order was not developed and implemented with the full participation of all affected government authorities and the sportfishing industry on which the Order will have a significant economic impact. VHS has been present for at least four years in the Great Lakes and numerous authorities are currently taking steps to develop an effective and collaborative control program.”

Robertson further says, “Additionally, ASA is concerned that implementing a hasty and poorly coordinated Order impacting the major stakeholders and authorities with resource management responsibilities and major economic interests, does not advance sound resource management with the appropriate and effective controls.”

The purpose of the ban is to attempt to limit the spread of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) to aquaculture facilities. To view the order and the list of species affected go to http://www.aphis.usda.gov/vs/aqua/.

VHS is a saltwater virus and has been blamed for the deaths of several species of fish in the Great Lakes such as sheepshead, musky and round gobies. VHS has been present in the Great Lakes system for at least four years and the lack of consultation by APHIS prior to issuing the ban has caused great concern among Great Lakes states state fishery managers. Managers are addressing this problem through cooperative efforts through the multi-jurisdictional Great Lakes Fisheries Health Committee.

The states affected are: Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Wisconsin. In addition, importation from the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec of the same species are not permitted.

Unless rescinded, the order, issued under the authority of the Animal Health Protection Act, will remain in effect until APHIS puts in place an Interim Rule that is expected to establish testing and certification criteria for susceptible species. APHIS estimates publication of the Interim Rule to occur by spring 2007.

The impacts of the ban could be far ranging because it affects trading of game fish species between state fishery agencies. There is also a significant impact on the bait fish market that depends on the interstate transport of a number of popular baitfish such as emerald shiners and fathead minnows.

The American Sportfishing Association is the sportfishing industry's trade association, uniting more than 650 members of the sportfishing and boating industries with state fish and wildlife agencies, federal land and water management agencies, conservation organizations, angler advocacy group and outdoor journalists. The American Sportfishing Association safeguards and promotes the enduring social, economic, and conservation values of sportfishing.

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