Aquaculture for all

DNR may relax fish transport ban

US - State wildlife officials want to relax plans for a statewide ban on moving fish if a deadly fish virus spreads.

Temporary rules established to control the spread of the VHS virus would prohibit moving live fish off any Wisconsin water if the virus is found anywhere beyond the Lake Winnebago chain. But the Natural Resources Board plans to vote Wednesday on permanent regulations that would limit the movement ban to the specific body of water where the virus is found.

State Department of Natural Resources officials say the virus probably hasn't spread across Wisconsin and they don't want outbreaks hundreds of miles away to inconvenience anglers and bait harvesters.

George Meyer, executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, blasted the rules as weak.

"We're actually going backward," Meyer said. "This means we're only protecting those waters where we've already found the problem. We won't be effectively protecting the state."

VHS, also known as viral hemorrhagic septicemia, lives in water and causes fish to bleed to death. It can't harm humans, but it can infect a wide variety of fish and has been blamed for large fish kills in Europe, Japan and on both U.S. coasts.

The virus has spread through much of the Great Lakes over the past five years. New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have adopted regulations designed to contain it.

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