Prevention for the Bait Industry

Baitfish from contaminated waters could spread VHS and other fish diseases.In efforts to control the disease, the USDA APHIS and many states restrict the movement of fish species susceptible to VHS to prevent the further spread of the virus to additional locations. Regulations regarding the harvesting of baitfish for commercial sale may include:

  • Bans on harvesting in VHS infected waters
  • A need for permits to harvest or sell baitfish
  • Record keeping requirements
  • Requirements, such as certified-free status for specified fish pathogens, prior to offering species for sale or fish health inspection of live fish by certified professionals
  • Some states require a dated receipt must be provided to and retained by the purchaser while in possession of the bait fish

Learn about the USDA APHIS Federal Order, regulated states and fish species.

Find fish movement regulations for your state.

Preventing the spread of the disease when harvesting or selling baitfish involves a few basic steps.

  • Do not move fish or plants from one body of water to another.
    • Infected fish can spread the virus to other fish. Some fish may be infected without showing signs of the disease.
  • Drain all water from vehicles and equipment before leaving the water source. This includes:
    • Boats, trailers, buckets, motors, live wells, boat hulls
    • Any boots, waders or other aquatic footwear
  • Remove all debris, mud, plants, and aquatic life from vehicles and equipment.
    • Check the trailer, boat, anchor, props, ropes, nets, paddles
  • Thoroughly clean and dry your boat, trailer, and harvesting equipment before using them in a new body of water.
    • If you are using a body of water known to be infected with VHS virus,
      disinfect vehicles and equipment with:
      • Hot (>40°C/104°F) water
      • Salt water (1% solution for 24 hours)
      • Vinegar solution
        • Dip equipment into 100% vinegar for 20 minutes
      • Bleach/water solution. [Do not rinse bleach solutions into lakes or rivers]

Prevention involves everyone!