Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Fish Health Regulations

Fish Health Regulations

This page summarizes NYCRR Part 188.

Placing fish into the freshwaters of New York

  • A Fish Stocking Permit is required to release certified disease-free fish into the freshwaters of New York State.
  • No fish shall be placed into the waters of the State unless a fish health certification report certifies that such fish are free of all identified pathogens (see fish health inspections below).
  • Personal use of baitfish is allowed provided the Baitfish Regulations are followed (consult the Freshwater Fishing Regulation Guide (PDF)).
  • 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).

Fish Health Inspections

  • A fish health certification report (PDF) 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).
  • Each "lot" of fish needs to be certified disease free. 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.
  • An inspected "lot" of fish can be certified for 1 year. After the year expires, the "lot" would have to be re-certified.
  • Sample collections and fish health certification reports must be made by a qualified fish health inspector: an American Fisheries Society certified fish pathologist or fish health inspector, licensed veterinarians, Government employees, or private laboratory personnel.
  • 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 (PDF) provided by the Department. 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.
  • Known fish testing facilities are:
    • Kennebeck River Biosciences, 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.
    • UAPB Fish Health Services, PO Box 357, Lonoke, Arkansas 72086. (501) 676-3124.
  • A fish health certification report is not required for fish possessed for placement into an aquarium.