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Fish Health Regulations

The information on this page serves as a summary of the Fish Health Inspection Requirements in New York's Codes, Rules and Regulations (NYCRR) Part 188 (leaves DEC website)

Diseases and Pathogens Tested

To prevent harmful pathogens from invading New York's freshwater fish populations, DEC requires fish health inspections to be performed to certify fish are disease-free prior to their release into any water within New York State, including privately owned waters. Below are a list of the diseases tested in New York State.

  • Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS)
  • Spring Viremia of Carp Virus
  • Furunculosis
  • Enteric Red Mouth
  • Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis (IPN)
  • Whirling disease in Salmonidae
  • Infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHN)
  • Renibacterium salmoninarum (bacterial kidney disease)

Fish Health Testing Requirements for Businesses

Before fish are offered for sale, sold, bartered, imported or transported for releasing into waters of New York State they must be certified disease free from the diseases listed above. These requirements apply to baitfish for wholesale or retail sale and fish raised in hatcheries to be used for stocking purposes.

Getting Fish Tested and Certified

Fish collections must be completed by a qualified fish health inspector that meet certain criteria and are familiar with the fish collection process for disease testing. This may include an American Fisheries Society certified fish pathologist or fish health inspector, licensed veterinarians, Government employee, 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.

For current contact information of qualified inspectors or to learn how to become a qualified inspector, call the DEC Rome Fish Disease Control Center at 315-337-0910.

The qualified inspector will send fish to an appropriate laboratory for disease testing where a standard fish health inspection form (PDF) is issued for the fish or "lot" of fish collected to certify them as disease free for up to 12 months. To be considered valid, the completed form must be signed by both the collecting agent and the inspector and a copy sent to the DEC. No other form shall be considered a valid fish health certification form in the State of New York.

Certifying "Lots" of Fish

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. Each "lot" of fish needs to be certified disease free.

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.

Fish Testing Facilities/Laboratories

  • 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.

Fish Health Inspection Report

Once completed through the proper testing and certification process as noted above, the Fish Health Inspection Report certifies that all fish being placed into the waters of the state are disease free. The report remains valid for one year and must be retained at the facility housing the fish. A copy of the report must be provided to anyone purchasing the fish to be transported and released into New York's waters.

Associated Commercial Permits and Licenses

The above information summarized from the Fish Health Inspection Regulations - NYCRR Part 188 (leaves DEC website) apply to the following commercial licenses and permits issued by DEC.

Information for Anglers and Landowners

Before releasing fish into New York's waters be familiar with the following regulations and requirements:

Border Waters Catch and Release: 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).

Aquarium Fish

A fish health certification report is not required for fish possessed for placement into an aquarium.

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