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Preventing the spread of VHS (new law)

Published (5/16/2008)
By Nick Busse
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Experts are warning that a potentially devastating fish-killing virus could soon enter Minnesota waters, and a new law is designed to prevent it from happening.

Signed May 15 by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, the law includes a package of measures designed to prevent the spread of the deadly viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus — a fatal and highly contagious pathogen that causes internal hemorrhaging in fish.

The Department of Natural Resources asked lawmakers to approve the measures in order to help protect the state from VHS, which has been found throughout the Great Lakes and in inland lakes in Michigan and Wisconsin.

Provisions of the law are designed to restrict the movement of potentially contaminated fish and fishing equipment, and to allow the DNR to track the movement of fish that are potential carriers of the virus.

Some of the new restrictions include:

• new certification and licensing requirements for those who import, stock or farm fish susceptible to VHS;

• a ban on fishing equipment used in VHS-infected waters from being used in non-infected waters;

• a requirement that minnow farmers have their minnows tested for diseases; and

• a ban on using bait from VHS-infected waters.

The law takes effect May 16, 2008. Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-South St. Paul) and Sen. Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope) are the sponsors.


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