For Release: Wednesday, June 29, 2011
DEC Announces Revised Baitfish Regulations
Allowance for Overland Transport Accommodating the Use of Baitfish on a Select Group of Waters
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced changes to state regulations that formerly banned the overland transport of uncertified baitfish by anglers, including baitfish that were personally collected. The changes are contained in a Final Rule Making which was filed with the Department of State on June 14, 2011 and become effective June 29, 2011. The amended rules allow for the overland transport of personally-collected baitfish within three specified transportation corridors, provided the baitfish are used in the same water body from which they are collected.
The three transportation corridors include: the Lake Erie-Upper Niagara River; the Lower Niagara River-Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River; and the Hudson River from the Federal Dam at Troy downstream to the Tappan Zee Bridge. While overland transport is allowed within these defined areas, the use of uncertified baitfish is restricted to the same water body from which it is collected. Only certified disease-free baitfish may be transported in motorized vehicles outside of the transportation corridors specified in the amended regulations.
"We are thankful for the comments provided by the public which helped DEC take a common sense approach to establishing overland transportation corridors," said Commissioner Joe Martens. "However, where the ban is still in place, we are counting on cooperation from anglers to ensure compliance and protect our fisheries."
New York's current fish health regulations were established shortly after Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) was first confirmed in New York waters in May, 2006 in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. VHS is a disease that causes hemorrhaging of the fish's tissues, including internal organs. There is no known cure for VHS. In June 2007, DEC finalized regulations to help prevent the spread of VHS and other fish diseases into New York's inland waters.
The introduction of infected fish, including baitfish, is a common pathway for the spread of fish pathogens. In 2007, a strict prohibition on overland (motorized) transport of uncertified baitfish was implemented to ensure that the use of uncertified baitfish was limited to the same body of water from which it was collected. Allowing transport within these defined corridors will still contain the movement of baitfish, including retaining the requirement that uncertified baitfish only be used in the same water body from which it has been collected. With strict compliance, the risk of spreading VHS and other fish pathogens into uninfected water bodies should not be increased. DEC's regulations will:
- Allow the overland motorized transport of uncertified baitfish that are collected for personal use within the identified transportation corridor. Such baitfish may only be used in the water body from which they were collected.
- Allow the overland motorized transport of uncertified baitfish by anglers purchasing the baitfish from licensed bait dealers located within one of the transportation corridors (provided the seller has obtained a permit from DEC to sell uncertified baitfish). The seller must provide the purchaser with a receipt that identifies the water body from which the bait was collected and can be used. That water body is the only place where the baitfish may be used.
- Impose no restrictions on the number of uncertified baitfish that may be collected or purchased for personal use in the water bodies associated with the transportation corridors. Also, such fish may be retained or preserved in any manner within the boundaries of the corridors. They may not be transported outside of the transportation corridors.
- Continue to subject any commercial sale of uncertified baitfish involving overland transport to a permit issued by the Department.
Anglers should be aware that a prohibition on transport of baitfish remains in effect outside the designated transportation corridors. The Department will monitor and evaluate the impact of the modifications to the regulations to ensure that the proposed transportation corridors do not compromise efforts to guard against the movement of uncertified baitfish beyond the water from which the baitfish were collected. Future regulatory amendments may be necessary based on those evaluations.
Details of the modifications as contained in the final rule making may be viewed on DEC's website.
Maps of the transportation corridors may be viewed on the Baitfish Regulations webpage.