Undercurrents: beneath the obvious

November 11, 2006

Caught, but not released

Filed under: Great Lakes Issues,Invasive Species — nemo @ 6:14 pm

The Detroit Free Press has this article on invasive species and bans on regional shipping:

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.

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.

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.


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