The Department of Natural Resources wants to remind anglers that regulations are in place to protect Michigan's waters from the spread of a fish virus known as Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHSv). These regulations place restrictions on the use of certain species of fish or baitfish for fishing. The official list of fish species affected by these regulations is available on the DNR's Web site www.michigan.gov/dnrfishing - see Prohibited Species List). The list is updated as necessary when new fish species are found to have a susceptibility to VHSv. Therefore, anglers are encouraged to check the web site on a regular basis.
In addition, the DNR reminds anglers that the regulations vary based upon designated management areas, which have been identified to help in controlling the spread of VHSv throughout Michigan's waters. There are three basic management areas, which include the VHSv Free Management Area, the VHSv Surveillance Management Area, and the VHSv Positive Management Area. The official list of waters associated with each type of management area may also be found on the DNR's Web site listed above. As new occurrences of VHSv are identified, the waters included in each type of Management Area type will be modified accordingly. Again, anglers are encouraged to check the web site on a regular basis.
For those fish species that are on the Prohibited Species List, baitfish or roe that are purchased and have been certified to be disease-free may be used for fishing in any waters of the State. For those fish species that are on the Prohibited Species List, baitfish or roe that have been collected either by anglers for personal use or wholesalers for retail purposes from waters in the VHSv Free Management Area may also be used for fishing in any waters of the State. The VHSv Free Management Area includes Lake Superior and all inland waters within the Lake Superior watershed.
There are specific restrictions, however, on where baitfish or roe on the Prohibited Species List that have not been certified, whether purchased or collected by anglers from public waters for personal use, may be used for fishing. These restrictions depend on the location and disease-status of the water body from which the baitfish or roe were collected. If the baitfish or roe were collected in a water body within the VHSv Positive Management Area, they can only be used in waters within the VHSv Positive Management Area. The VHSv Positive Management Area includes those waters of the Great Lakes from Lake Huron to Lake Erie, the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, and the Detroit River, as well as all tributary streams up to the first barrier that blocks the movement of Great Lakes fish into inland waters. If baitfish or roe were collected in a water body within the VHSv Surveillance Management Area, they can be used in waters within either the VHSv Surveillance or Positive Management areas. The VHSv Surveillance Management Area includes all waters in the Lake Huron, St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, Detroit River, and Lake Erie watersheds above the first barrier that blocks the movement of Great Lakes fish into inland waters, as well as the St. Marys River and the waters of Lake Michigan up to the first barrier that blocks the movement of Great Lakes fish into inland waters.
"An easy way to determine the management area classification of a particular water body is to determine if Great Lakes fish such as Chinook salmon, coho salmon, steelhead, walleyes or suckers can get to that water body. If so, then that location has the same classification as the Great Lake water into which it flows." said Gary Whelan, DNR fish production manager.
If anglers purchase bait from a retail shop, they will need to carry receipts for any species of baitfish or roe that is found on the Prohibited Species list. Some of the key baitfish species that anglers will need to have receipts for include: emerald shiners, spottail shiners, and white suckers, as well as for roe from Chinook salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead.
The receipts should contain the following information: 1) the name of the licensed retail bait dealer and the dealer's license number; 2) the date of sale; 3) the prohibited fish species sold and amount; 4) a transaction number; and 5) whether the bait is certified or not. If the bait is not certified then the VHSv Management Area in which the bait was collected must be indicated so anglers know where they may use it. The information on the receipt is essential to allow DNR staff a chance to trace back any problems, such as a VHSv outbreak.
"Anglers are likely to see a variety of ways the information is provided on or attached to a receipt, since we are trying to be as flexible as possible in working with retailers. As long as the information is made available to the angler, everything will work out just fine," said Whelan. "Anglers may see cash register printouts with all of the information, cash register printouts that have some of the information on an attached sticker (such as an address or photo slide-sized label) or ink stamp, or cash register printouts with some of the information and a second piece of paper attached to the receipt with the rest of the information."
Anglers are reminded that their receipts are valid for one week, after which anglers will need to dispose of their minnows.
There have been some reports of significant price increases attributed solely to the testing requirements for VHSv certification. Anglers should be aware that the costs of the testing range between $300 to approximately $950 for each lot of fish tested. Examples of lots include up to 100,000 white suckers or up to 1 million fish if the tests are being conducted on emerald or spottail shiners. Since the cost per fish for testing is very small, anglers should be wary of large price hikes when purchasing minnows that have been attributed to costs associated with testing.
"It is critical that anglers follow these regulations because we need their help in preventing the movement of fish diseases. Without their help, their fisheries could suffer avoidable losses," said DNR Fisheries Division Chief Kelley Smith.
a news release of the Michigan DNR, Jan 30, 2008
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