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Fish Health Regulations in Response to VHS

Summary of Fish Health Regulations

Effective June 6, 2007
Updated March 28, 2012

On June 6, 2007, fish health regulations were finalized to prevent the spread of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) and other fish diseases into the inland waters of New York. Slight modifications were made to the fish health regulations on January 6, 2010. A summary of the regulations that the Department has adopted is as follows:

  • Personally harvested bait fish from inland waters, live or dead, can only be used on the same water body from which they were caught and cannot be transported overland by a motorized vehicle (i.e. car) with the exception of smelt, suckers, alewives and blueback herring collected from select waters according to NYCRR Part 10.5, NYCRR Part 10.7 or angling.
  • Smelt, suckers, alewives and blueback herring collected from select waters may be transported off the water body without a fish health certification report, but they cannot be brought back to any water body for use as bait.
  • Commercially harvested bait fish from inland waters, live or frozen, can only be possessed, sold, and offered for sale on the same body of water from which it was caught and cannot be transported overland by a motorized vehicle unless under a permit issued by the DEC. This includes transport for fish disease testing.
  • Bait fish commercially harvested in the Marine District can only be used in the Marine District and the Hudson River downstream of the Federal Dam at Troy.
  • Bait fish caught in the Marine District or bait fish destined for the Marine District, including imported bait fish destined for the Marine District, can only be transported overland for use in the Marine District in the following counties: Queens, Kings, Richmond, New York, Bronx, Suffolk, Nassau, Rockland and Westchester.
  • Bait fish sold for retail or transfer that has been certified may be transported overland and used as bait provided that the angler has a copy of a sale receipt that has the name of the selling vendor, date sold, species of fish sold, and quantity of fish sold. A receipt is valid for 10 days, including the date of sale.
  • Bait fish sold for retail or transfer that have NOT been certified require a receipt with the following information on it: the body of water in which the bait fish may be used (water body they were collected from) and a warning to the purchaser that the fish may not be transported by car or other motorized vehicle.
  • Commercially harvested/produced bait fish that has been certified may be sold, offered for sale, and transported overland if accompanied by a fish health certification report.
  • Bait fish sold for resale require a fish health certification and a receipt containing the name of the selling vendor, date sold, species of fish sold, and quantity of fish sold shall be retained by the purchaser for 30 days or until the fish are sold, whichever is greater.
  • Bait fish packaged for commercial purposes and preserved by methods other than by solely freezing (i.e. salting) can be sold and used wherever it is legal to use bait fish. Each package of dead bait fish shall be individually labeled, identifying the name of the packager-processor, the name of the fish species, the quantity of fish packaged, and the means of preservation.
  • If there are uncertified bait fish and certified bait fish present at the same location, all bait fish at that location are considered uncertified unless permitted by the Department.
  • A fish health certification report shall certify that all fish being placed into the waters of the state are disease free of VHS, Spring Viremia of Carp Virus, Furunculosis, Enteric Red Mouth, and Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis (IPN) and that all fish in the family Salmonidae are disease free of whirling disease, infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHN), and Renibacterium salmoninarum (bacterial kidney disease).
  • Effective January 1, 2009, a fish health certification report shall certify that all fish placed in the waters of New York shall be certified disease free of all the pathogens listed above.
  • Sample collections and fish health certification reports must be made by a qualified fish health inspector. Methods used for collection and certification must be recognized by either the American Fisheries Society or the World Organization of Animal Health. All fish health certification reports must be completed on a form provided by the Department.
  • If uncertified fish are mixed with a lot of certified fish, the entire lot of fish is considered uncertified.
  • A fish health certification report is not required for fish possessed for placement into an aquarium.
  • Where a water body is divided by a State or International boundary, live fish, except bait fish, taken in the portion of the water body located outside New York State may be transported on water across the boundary and may be released in the New York portion of the same water body (allows for catch and release tournaments on boundary waters).

Definitions

  1. Certified: Certified bait fish or fish must be inspected and found disease free of VHS, Spring Viremia of Carp Virus, Furunculosis, Enteric Red Mouth, and Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis (IPN) to be used in the water bodies in New York. The inspection must follow the requirements under Part 188 of the New York State Code of Rules and Regulations. Results of the inspection must appear on a standard Fish Health Certification Report provided by the Department for the bait fish to be considered certified.
  2. Uncertified: Uncertified bait fish or fish do not meet the requirements for certified bait fish under Part 188 of the New York State Code of Rules and Regulations.
  3. Overland transport: for the purposes of these regulations, overland transport means transport by any motorized vehicle. This includes car, motorcycles, trucks, trains, planes or any other vehicle that uses a motor. Transport by foot is not included in this definition.

General Frequently Asked Questions about the Fish Health Regulations

1. Why were the fish health regulations put into effect?

The fish health regulations were put into effect to prevent the spread of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) and other diseases into the inland waters of New York State. VHS is primarily spread from fish to fish, therefore transplanting fish through stocking or the use of bait can potentially spread the disease to uninfected fish populations. These regulations have been adopted to prevent the spread of VHS by requiring bait fish to either be used only in the same water from which they were caught or certifying bait fish to be used in waters other than from which they were caught. All stocked fish must be certified prior to their use/release in the waters of New York.

2. In which waters have fish been found to be positive for VHS in New York?

The waters in New York where fish have tested positive for VHS are:

  • Lake Ontario
  • St. Lawrence River
  • Lake Erie
  • Conesus Lake
  • Skaneateles Lake
  • Seneca-Cayuga Canal
  • Private Pond in Ransomville

3. Why did New York adopt fish health testing regulations for diseases in addition to VHS?

While VHS is the "hot" disease making headlines, it is not the only disease of concern. The other diseases included in the regulations can also threaten fish populations. Though not widespread in New York, some of these diseases are found in New York and in states adjacent to or near New York. Therefore it makes sense to stop all the known threats rather than just one. DEC tests the fish raised at its hatcheries for these diseases.

4. What is the definition of a "water body?"

For the purposes of the revised fish health regulations, "water body" is defined as any lake, river, pond, stream or any other distinct mass of water existing in the State of New York, whether publicly or privately owned, including the banks and shores thereof . A water body shall also include all tributaries upstream to the first impassable barrier including the banks and shores thereof. For the purposes of this definition, locks and dams shall be considered impassable barriers.

Notwithstanding the definition of water body, several water bodies were specifically defined in the regulations that included combining certain waters that crossed locks. Those water bodies are:

  • Lake Ontario in combination with the Lower Niagara River and the St. Lawrence River;
  • Lake Erie in combination with the Upper Niagara River, Black Rock Canal, and waters of the Erie Barge Canal from the Upper Niagara River to Lock E-35 in Lockport;
  • Oswego River from Lock 7 to junction with Oneida River and Seneca River at Three Rivers;
  • Oneida River downstream of Caughdenoy dam and Erie Barge Canal from Lock E23 to the junction with Oswego and Seneca Rivers;
  • Oneida Lake and Erie Barge Canal downstream to Lock E23 and upstream to Lock E22, and the Oneida River downstream to Caughdenoy Dam;
  • Mohawk River from Barge Canal in Rome upstream to Delta Dam;
  • Erie Barge Canal from Lock E22 east to Lock E6;
  • Hudson River from the Federal Dam at Troy to Bakers Falls in the City of Hudson Falls, and the Champlain Canal up to but not above Lock 7 in Fort Edward, and the Erie Barge Canal up to but not above Lock E6 in Waterford;
  • Lake Champlain including the Champlain Canal up to, but not above Lock 12;
  • Hudson River downstream from the Federal Dam at Troy to the Battery at the southern tip of Manhattan Island;
  • Susquehanna River downstream of dam in Oakland, Pennsylvania and Chenango River; and
  • Saranac Chain of Lakes from Lake Flower upstream to Barlett Carry Dam.

5. Are the fish health regulations the final regulations that will be adopted?

Yes. While regulations can change as information is gathered (such as the information about the VHS threat), there are no plans to change the fish health regulations that are currently in effect.

6. Was an assessment of public comments done on the second round of public comments?

Yes. An assessment of public comments for comments received during the second round of public comments was completed and is available in the June 6, 2007, edition of the New York State Register.

What to do if you find sick/dead fish

If you witness a large number of dead or dying fish (usually 100 or more), please contact the nearest DEC regional office and ask for the Bureau of Fisheries. Questions about VHS and potential DEC actions to prevent its spread can be e-mailed to fwfish@dec.ny.gov or by calling 518-402-8896. The public is also advised to regularly check the Department website for updated information on VHS in New York State.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Personal Use of Bait Fish

1. What is the personal possession limit for bait fish?

There is no personal possession limit for bait fish except for smelt which have 8 or 10 quart limits in select locations.

2. Why can I only use personally caught bait fish in the water it was collected from?

This action serves as a mechanism to contain potentially infected fish. DEC cannot test fish from every water within the State for VHS or other diseases. Therefore, limiting bait fish use to the water from which it was captured reduces the potential that diseases will be spread to other bodies of water.

3. If VHS is a Great Lakes issue, why restrict the use of inland bait fish?

VHS has been documented in Conesus Lake, an inland water; therefore VHS is not just a Great Lakes issue. There are two types of waters: waters with known VHS positive fish and waters where the disease status of fish is unknown. Inland bait fish use is restricted to reduce the risk of spreading fish that have an unknown disease states, i.e. uncertified bait fish.

4. Can I transport uncertified bait fish into New York?

No. Uncertified bait fish cannot be transported into New York across a state or international boundary even if those bait fish were collected from the non-New York portion of a border water that New York shares with another state or Canada.

5. Can I take my personally collected bait fish home with me?

Personally collected bait cannot be transported overland by a motorized vehicle (i.e. car). Unless you live within walking distance from the water where you collected the bait fish, you will not be able to bring your bait fish home with you.

6. Where can I use bait fish I purchase in the bait shop?

Under the revised regulations, there will be three types of bait fish sold in bait shops: uncertified bait fish, certified bait fish and preserved bait fish. They are handled differently.

Uncertified bait fish have not been tested for fish diseases and can only be used in the same body of water from which they were collected to reduce the risk of spreading diseases. Therefore, bait shops selling uncertified bait fish will have to be on or within walking distance of the water. Uncertified bait fish cannot be transported overland by motorized vehicle. The provision to allow uncertified bait fish to be sold addressed concerns raised on the Great Lakes and Hudson River.

Certified bait fish can be transported overland and can be used in any body of water where it is legal to use bait fish. When buying certified bait fish, a sale receipt that has the name of the selling vendor, date sold, species of fish sold, and quantity of fish sold must be issued by the bait vendor. A receipt is valid for 10 days from the date of sale. The angler must have this receipt available while transporting or using the bait fish.

Preserved bait fish are dead bait fish that have been preserved by a method other than solely freezing. Preserved bait fish do not have to be certified and may be transported overland. The presence of preserved bait fish will not invalidate the certification of certified bait fish.

Bait stores can only sell uncertified bait fish or certified bait fish. They cannot have a combination of both. If a bait store has even some uncertified bait fish, all bait fish will be considered uncertified. This avoids the risk of miscommunication or cross contamination that could spread fish diseases.

The bottom line: if you must transport your bait fish overland by a motorized vehicle, you will have to either purchase certified bait fish or preserved bait fish.

7. Why can't I transport uncertified bait fish in my car?

Using uncertified bait fish is a risk because it is not known if those bait fish have diseases or not. That is why the DEC limited the use of uncertified bait fish to the same water from which they were collected, reducing the risk of spreading diseases. If uncertified bait fish were allowed to be transported by car, the regulations would become unenforceable, increasing the risk of spreading diseased fish. Therefore, the DEC is being responsive to anglers and bait vendors that want to be able to use uncertified bait fish, but that use is tightly controlled due to the risk involved.

Given the above, regulations were put in place on June 29, 2011, that permitted baitfish to be transported by car within three designated overland travel corridors:

  • Upper Niagara River/Lake Erie
  • Lower Niagara River/Lake Ontario/St. Lawrence River
  • [Tidal] Hudson River

Those baitfish were still required to be used within the same water body from which they were caught. Regulations and boundaries for those travel corridors can be found at the bottom of the baitfish regulations page.

8. Why is a receipt for certified bait fish valid for only 10 days?

A receipt for certified bait fish is valid for 10 days, including day of sale, to reduce the risk of people using a receipt to transport uncertified bait fish. Ten days was judged to be adequate to give people enough time to use leftover bait fish on another fishing trip while keeping the risk of using a receipt to transport uncertified bait fish low. Ten days also allows anglers to purchase bait on a Friday and use them the following weekend.

9. What do I do with my unwanted left over bait fish?

Leftover bait fish should never be released or dumped (if dead) into a water of the state of New York. You should also dispose of your bait bucket water on land and not into New York's waters. This will help reduce not only the risk of fish diseases like VHS, but of other aquatic hitchhikers such as zebra mussels.

10. Can I salt my personally caught minnows or certified minnows I purchased from the store?

Personally harvested bait fish cannot be transported overland by motorized vehicle, and therefore could not be taken home. Certified minnows could be salted, but could only be used within 10 days of purchase and would require a sales receipt.

11. Can I use salted minnows purchased from a bait store?

Yes. Dead bait fish that are packaged for commercial purposes and preserved by a method other than by freezing (i.e. salting) may be used in any water body where the use of bait fish is permitted. Bait fish meeting this definition may be transported overland and do not need to be certified disease free.

12. Does frozen bait have to be certified?

No. Frozen bait fish that is uncertified will be treated the same as live uncertified bait fish and can only be used on the water from which it was caught and cannot be transported overland by a motorized vehicle unless it is within one of the overland transportation corridors.

Frozen bait fish that are certified are treated the same as live certified bait fish (see 5 above).

13. Do fish eggs have to be certified?

No. Fish eggs are not addressed in the emergency regulations and do not have to be certified.

14. Can I use perch, sunfish, suckers or other angler caught fish as bait in the same water I caught them from?

Yes. If the fish you caught by angling is in season, meets the minimum size limit, and is within your possession limit, you can use that fish for bait. That fish counts towards your possession limit even if it gets off the hook. Please note that perch, sunfish and most other angler caught fish cannot be collected by methods other than angling and cannot be sold as bait fish. The only species of fish that can be collected by methods other than angling and used as bait fish are minnows (except carp and goldfish), killifish, mudminnows, darters, sticklebacks, stonecats, smelt, alewives, suckers and blueback herring. Possession of endangered or threatened species is prohibited.

Frequently Asked Questions by Bait Fish Sellers

1. Can I sell uncertified bait fish?

Yes. You can sell uncertified bait fish, but the ability to do so comes with severe restrictions. If you sell uncertified bait fish, live or frozen, you can not sell other fish as certified bait fish in the same facility. Your customers will not be able to transport uncertified bait fish in their cars, so logic dictates you must be on or within easy walking distance of the water to make it worth your while. Uncertified bait fish cannot be transported to your shop unless you obtain a special permit issued by the Department. A receipt shall be required for the sale of uncertified bait fish that has the following information on it: water body where the bait fish can be used (same as the water body where the bait fish were collected) and a warning to the purchaser that the bait fish cannot be transported overland by motorized vehicle. The reason for these restrictions is that the use of uncertified bait fish increases the risk of spreading fish diseases; therefore tight control is necessary.

2. Can I sell uncertified and certified bait fish at the same time?

If you are selling uncertified bait fish, live or frozen, then all fish in your facility are considered uncertified even if some of the fish have been certified as disease free unless permitted by the Department. Permits will only be issued in situations that are considered low risk by the Department.

3. Do I have to issue a sales receipt for certified bait fish?

Yes. In order for your customers to legally transport certified bait fish in a motorized vehicle, they will need a sale receipt that has the name of the selling vendor, date sold, species of fish sold, and quantity of fish sold. A receipt is valid for 10 days, including date of sale. Certified bait fish sold without such a receipt will be considered uncertified bait fish.

4. Do I have to issue a wholesale receipt for sales of bait fish for resale?

Yes. You have to issue a wholesale receipt that has the name of the seller, the date of the retail sale transaction, the species of fish sold, and the quantity of each species of fish sold.

5. Do I need to post if my fish are uncertified or certified or above/on my fish tanks?

No. You are not required to display if your fish are uncertified or certified disease free; however, it would be a very good idea. You will be responsible for issuing receipts to your customers that informs them if the bait fish are certified or uncertified.

6. What paperwork will I need to sell certified bait fish?

If you are selling certified bait fish, you need to have a copy of the fish health certification report and a copy of your wholesale receipt on the premises should an Environmental Conservation Officer ask to see it. You should also have a copy of your license to sell bait fish on the premises as well. You will need to issue receipts to your customers with the specifications listed in question 3 above.

7. Is there a limit on the number of bait fish I can sell a customer?

No.

8. Can I sell salted minnows or other preserved bait fish?

Yes. You can sell dead bait fish preserved by a method other than by solely freezing that is packaged for commercial purposes. For bait fish to be considered commercially packaged, they must be labeled with the following information: the name of the packager-processor, the name of the fish species, the quantity of fish packaged, and the means of preservation. These bait fish may be transported overland to any body of water where it is legal to use bait fish. The presence of such preserved bait fish will not invalidate a fish health certification report for live bait fish in your facility. If you salt your own bait fish, you will need a permit issued by the Department to transport the uncertified bait fish you commercially collected overland by motorized vehicle to your salting facility.

9. Does each fish shipment I receive require a new fish health certification?

Yes. Each live fish shipment you receive must come with a new fish health certification report certifying the bait fish to be disease free and a wholesale receipt. In some cases, this might be a copy of the same fish health certification report you received the last time a shipment came, but in other cases it will change, depending on if your supplier changed the "lot" of fish from which they were delivering bait fish to you.

10. Do I need a fish health certification report for frozen fish?

No. Frozen fish do not require a fish health certification report, but uncertified frozen fish will be treated the same as live uncertified fish and can only be used on the same body of water from which they were caught and cannot be transported overland by a motorized vehicle. Certified frozen fish will be treated the same as live certified fish. They can be transported overland with a receipt that is valid for 10 days, including date of sale.

11. Do I need a fish health certification report for crayfish or other non-fish live?

No.

12. Do I need a bait fish permit issued by New York if I import bait fish wholesale into New York?

Yes. A bait fish permit is required to sell any bait fish in New York, including out of state wholesalers.

Frequently Asked Questions by Commercial Bait Fish Collectors

1. Can I collect bait fish from waters where fish have tested positive for VHS?

Yes. You can collect bait fish from waters where fish have tested positive for VHS. Bait fish collected from such waters will be treated as uncertified bait fish and can only be used on the water body they were collected from, reducing the risk of spreading the disease.

2. Can I transport uncertified bait fish to my holding facilities or bait shops?

You can transport uncertified bait fish to your holding facilities or bait shops only by special permit issued by the Department. If such a permit is issued, it will be very specific as to where you can transport your uncertified bait fish to reduce the risk those uncertified fish pose.

3. Is a permit necessary to get my fish tested?

A special permit issued at the discretion of the Department is necessary to transport uncertified fish for commercial purposes, including transport to a lab for testing.

4. Who can take a sample of my fish for testing?

In order to create a chain of custody, your fish must be sampled and tested by one of the following individuals with a demonstrated capability to perform sample collection and fish health inspections:

  • An American Fisheries Society certified fish pathologist or fish health inspector
  • Licensed veterinarians
  • Government employees
  • Private laboratory personnel

One of the above individuals can conduct a sample to be sent to a separate appropriate lab to be tested.

5. Where can I get my fish tested?

Fish can be tested at either of the two following locations:

Micro Technologies, 41 Main Street, Richmond, Maine 04357. (207) 737-2637.

Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, College of Veterinary Medicine, PO Box 647010, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-7010. (509) 335-6656. Ask for Jim Thompson.

Additional testing facilities will be added to the web page as they are identified. If you would like your testing facility to be listed, please call (518)402-8896.

6. How long does it take to get my fish tested?

Results take approximately 3 weeks from the time the lab receives the fish samples (information provided by Micro Technologies).

7. Is there a standard form that needs to be filled out certifying my fish as disease free?

Yes. The Department has developed a Fish Health Certification Report form (PDF, 44 Kb) for this purpose. The form needs to be initiated by the collecting agent and sent with the fish to the lab for completion. This form must be signed by both the collecting agent and the inspector and a copy sent to the Department for the form to be considered valid. No other form shall be considered a valid fish health certification form in the State of New York.

8. What is considered a "lot" of fish?

The American Fisheries Society defines a lot of fish as follows: "a lot of fish is a group of non-brood stock (breeding fish) of the same species that have continuously shared a common water source throughout their life history." For the purposes of collecting bait fish, a "lot" of fish is a pooled collection of a single species that is held in a self contained holding structure. A new lot of fish is formed every time uncertified fish are added to an existing "lot." When fish from distinct lots are combined, they form a newly distinct lot. Unless coming from an inspected/certified source, adding fish to a certified lot will render the receiving lot uncertified.

9. How often do I need to re-certify a "lot" of fish as disease free?

An inspected "lot" of fish can be certified for 1 year. After the year expires, the "lot" would have to be re-certified. If uncertified fish are added to a certified "lot" of fish, the fish health certification report would no longer be valid for that "lot," and the new "lot" would have to be re-certified.

10. Once I test fish from a lake, is the certification good for a year for all fish I take from that lake afterwards?

No. Each collection of bait from a wild source is considered a lot, therefore each lot (collection) must be certified.

11. Where can I hold my bait fish until the test results come back?

Fish can be held in a holding facility/structure. A permit issued by your local regional DEC office is required to transport fish to your holding facility.

12. What fish species do the regulations apply to?

The regulations apply to all freshwater fish species regardless of where they were raised.

13. Can I collect bait fish and export them outside of NY?

Bait fish can be collected and exported outside of NY provided the fish meet the criteria outlined in the APHIS (Animal Plant Health Inspection Service) Amended Federal Order. Fish of the 37 listed species will have to be certified free of VHS before they can be moved outside of New York.

Frequently Asked Questions about use of Marine Bait Fish

1. Do bait fish (mummichog, bunker, alewife, eels, etc.), live or frozen, collected in the marine district need to be certified for use in the marine district?

No.

2. Can bait fish (mummichog, bunker, alewife, eels, etc.), live or frozen, collected in the marine district be transported over land for use in the marine district.

Yes, bait fish, live or frozen, collected from the marine district can be transported over land for use in other parts of the marine district. The marine district includes the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and all other tidal waters within the state, including the Hudson River up to the Tappan Zee Bridge. Overland transport by motorized vehicle of Marine Bait fish is restricted to the following counties: Queens, Kings, Richmond, New York, Bronx, Suffolk, Nassau, Rockland and Westchester.

3. Can uncertified bait fish (mummichog, bunker, alewife, eels, etc.), live or frozen, collected in the marine district be used in the inland waters of New York.

No, with the exception of the Hudson River downstream of the Federal Dam at Troy.

4. Can bait fish (mummichog, bunker, alewife, eels, etc.), dead or frozen, collected in the marine district be used in the Hudson River between the Federal Dam at Troy and the Tappan Zee Bridge?

Yes. However, marine bait fish used in the Hudson River between the Federal Dam at Troy and the Tappan Zee Bridge cannot be transported overland by a motorized vehicle unless they are certified. Therefore, uncertified marine bait fish must be transported by boat upstream of the Tappan Zee Bridge.

5. Do the regulations apply to crabs or other non-fish bait species?

No. The regulations only apply to fish.

6. If a bait shop is selling bait fish from the marine district for use in the marine district, can it also sell certified bait for use in freshwater?

A permit issued by the Department is required to sell uncertified bait fish from the marine district for use in the marine district and certified bait fish for use in freshwater at the same facility.

Frequently Asked Questions for Tournament Anglers

1. How do New York's fish health regulations impact tournaments on border waters?

On water bodies where a state or international boundary divides the water body, fish, with the exception of bait fish, caught in the non-New York portion of the water body may be transported on the water to the New York portion of the water body and released. Therefore, catch and release tournaments are permitted.

2. Can I bring my fish through locks while fishing a tournament?

In general, you cannot bring your fish through locks while fishing a tournament because locks are designated as impassable barriers, so you would be moving from one water body to another. However, there are 12 designated water bodies, some of which cross locks. The list of those designated water bodies is question 4 in the General Frequently Asked Questions about the Emergency Regulations. In those designated water bodies, you could bring your fish through locks since you will be on what is considered the same water body.

3. Can I weigh my fish on land and the release them back into the water?

Most tournaments have a weigh-in on the shoreline of the lake or river. You can take your fish from your livewell, walk them overland to the weigh in station, and release them back into the water body from which they were caught. Because the fish did not leave the shoreline area, they are not considered to have left the water body and can be released back into the water body without a fish health certification report. If you transport your fish to a weighing station overland by motorized vehicle, a permit is required for both the transport and releasing the fish back into the water body.

Frequently Asked Questions for Commercial Private Hatcheries

1. What testing is required if I sell fish for stocking waters in New York State?

All species of fish sold for stocking in the waters of New York State or imported for the same purpose must be tested for the pathogens specified in DEC's revised emergency regulations. Specifically, all species must be tested for VHS, Spring Viremia of Carp Virus, Furunculosis, Enteric Red Mouth, and IPN. In addition, Salmonids (salmon and trout for example) must be tested for Whirling Disease, IHN, and Bacterial Kidney Disease. Testing for Heterosporis is no longer required.

2. How do the test results affect what I may do with the fish that are tested?

a) All species must be free of VHS, Spring Viremia of Carp Virus, Furunculosis, Enteric Red Mouth, and IPN if they are sold or imported for stocking in the waters of the State, plus Salmonids must be free of Whirling Disease and IHN if they are imported or sold for stocking in the waters of the State.

Note: All fish that are stocked in New York water bodies required a stocking permit issued by the Department.

3. Is there a standard form that needs to be filled out certifying my fish are inspected and comply with the revised emergency regulations?

Yes. The Department has developed a standard form for this purpose. The form needs to be initiated by the collecting agent and sent with the fish to the lab for completion. This form must be signed by both the collecting agent and the inspector and a copy sent to the Department for the form to be considered valid. No other form shall be considered a valid fish health certification form in the State of New York.

4. Can fish that test positive for the pathogens identified in 2.b) above be stocked anywhere in New York waters?

No. Stocking of individual waters is governed by the issuance of fish stocking permits. In some cases a stocking permit for an individual water or location may specify only certified fish may be stocked. This might occur if a water to be stocked under permit is close to or flows into a sensitive location, such as a hatchery or broodstock water. These decisions are made by the Regional DEC Fisheries Units that issue stocking permits.

5. What testing is required if I sell fish to customers outside of New York State?

Fish that are on the APHIS list of VHS susceptible species must be certified free of VHS to be transported out of New York. In addition, those fish would also have to comply with the testing requirements of the receiving jurisdiction. Fish that are not on the APHIS list of VHS susceptible species would only have to comply with the testing requirements of the receiving jurisdiction.

6. Is testing required if I buy fish that comply with New York's disease testing requirements and raise them solely for direct sale to human food markets in New York?

No.

7. Is additional testing required if I buy fish that comply with New York's disease testing requirements and raise them for eventual stocking in the waters of New York State?

Additional testing may be required, depending upon how long the fish are held in your facility and other site specific factors. Contact DEC personnel at the Rome Fish Disease Control Laboratory (phone 315-337-0910) to discuss your particular situation.

8. Why did DEC modify its fish health inspection requirements from the previous emergency regulations?

DEC modified the requirements in response to some of the public comments we received. All fish must be inspected and found free of the pathogens as described in 2.a) and 2.b) above. Facilities with fish that test positive for certain pathogens described in 2.b) above have almost 2 years to eliminate those pathogens. Beginning January 1, 2009, all fish being imported for stocking into New York waters or sold for stocking in New York waters must be free of pathogens identified in our regulations.Upper Niagara River/Lake Erie