Msg 1 Posted: 10:28 AM 11/02/06 (CST)
Thought you all might be interested in this article from the Detroit Free Press about VHS. There is a ban on shipping fish between states, including Minnesota, after the disease was found to affect different species of fish. On Lake St. Clair, where I grew up and is considered one of the best places to fish for muskies in the country, there was a muskie dieoff last spring. One current issue is that bait stores often get their live bait from other states, and there is a ban on transporting some types of bait (emerald shiners are one) between |
Here is both the link and the text of the article (the link needs to be hotlinked, I don't know if I can do that w/o help).
Caught, but not released
VHS outbreak leads to a ban on regional shipping
November 2, 2006
BY ERIC SHARP
FREE PRESS OUTDOORS WRITER
BROOKLYN, Mich. -- When a new disease called viral hemorrhagic septicemia apparently was brought into the Great Lakes from the oceans and killed a couple of thousand muskellunge in Lake St. Clair last spring, fisheries biologists hoped it was a transitory event that would blow over.
Now, VHS has infected up to 27 freshwater fish species from St. Clair to the St. Lawrence River and presents such a threat that the federal government has banned the movement of most live game and baitfish from eight Great Lakes states and two Canadian provinces.
That represents a major problem for state fisheries agencies, which regularly ship each other millions of baby walleyes, muskellunge, steelhead, Pacific salmon and other game species for stocking, and for fishing tackle shops that get most of their live baitfish from Wisconsin and Minnesota.
It is such a serious challenge for bait dealers that wholesalers from Michigan, New York, Illinois and several other states met Wednesday to discuss ways and means to keep anglers' bait buckets full this winter and in future seasons.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources fisheries chief Kelley Smith and Gary Whelan, the DNR's hatchery program manager, were in Washington, where they and their counterparts from other state agencies and the representatives from the bait industry were trying to figure out the next step.
James Rogers, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said, "We knew that there had been some fish die-offs (because of VHS). But only a couple of species were affected. Then some new research came out that said that some species that we thought not to be affected by VHS were affected.
"That caused us to issue the emergency order to stop the movement of fish from (Ontario and Quebec) and the states where the disease has been found," including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. And after VHS was found in Conesus Lake, which is near Lake Ontario but has no direct connection to it, New York State banned the movement of the affected species within its borders.
VHS doesn't affect people, but it causes fish to bleed from internal organs. To date, the freshwater species that the disease is known to infect include black crappie, bluegills, bluntnose minnows, brown bullhead, brown trout, burbot, channel catfish, chinook salmon, coho salmon, emerald shiners, freshwater drum (sheepshead), gizzard shad, largemouth and smallmouth bass, muskellunge, pike, pink salmon, rainbow trout, redhorse suckers, rock bass, round gobies, walleyes, white bass, white perch, whitefish and yellow perch.
"We're holding the (bait dealers) meeting here to try to get some answers, do some planning and figure out what our options are," said Tom Knutson, a partner in Knutson's Recreational Sales in Brooklyn, a major retailer and wholesaler of live baitfish in Michigan and surrounding states.
"So far, we're OK for the short term, because they haven't included fathead minnows in the ban, and we can supply bait for the ice fishing season. But that might be only because they haven't done the testing on (fatheads) yet. We don't know how many species this thing might eventually affect."
The APHIS emergency order forbids moving live fish from any of the infected species out of the eight states and bans their importation from the Canadian provinces.
Todd Grischke, a DNR natural resources manager in Lansing, said Michigan imports some live juvenile muskellunge and channel cats from other Great Lakes states and exports large numbers of chinook salmon, steelhead and walleyes.
As a bait wholesaler, Knutson is worried that the ban could result in a permanent loss of business to wholesalers in unaffected states like North Dakota and South Dakota and "bootlegging" of live bait by companies that could buy a small number of baitfish from the unaffected states and then sell infected species under a false origin label.
Knutson said: "We think they should at least let us ship live bait between the eight states where they've found the disease. But the problem is they don't have any system set up to certify where the bait comes from."
Like alewives, zebra mussels and about 150 other organisms, VHS is an exotic species that entered lakes from outside, probably in the ballast water of ocean-going ships. Before the Lake St. Clair musky die-off last spring, it was known only in a few saltwater species.
The musky die-off in St. Clair lasted a couple of weeks, then the outbreak seemed to have run its course.
But that was followed in mid-summer by outbreaks in lakes Erie and Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, the Great Lakes' outlet to the sea.