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Author Topic: Good News from BASS  (Read 1348 times)

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Good News from BASS
« on: May 04, 2007, 01:57:54 PM »

Federal order rescinds virus issue for tournaments
BASS action good news for anglers
By staff report - May 4, 2007

Federal officials have amended an order that prohibited the interstate and international transfer of live fish from states and provinces known to be infected with the deadly Viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS).

The area most affected by the amendment encompasses states and provinces surrounding the Great Lakes.

BASS took a leadership role in lobbying for the interests of recreational anglers, including those who compete in bass tournaments throughout the region.

The amendment was announced today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

"The fact that APHIS took the extra steps to amend the current order, rather than go through the lengthy regulation development process, demonstrates their commitment to protecting our wild fish stocks, while also meeting the needs of the angling public. The folks at APHIS were truly a pleasure to work with," said Chris Horton, BASS Conservation director.

Horton said that BASS will play a key role in educating the public and anglers about the virus and ways to prevent its spread. At all BASS events in the Great Lakes region, Horton said that tournament officials will thoroughly brief anglers on the virus, as well as what they can do to help stop the spread. Horton added that BASS is also working to help secure additional funding for APHIS to continue their VHS research efforts and public outreach and education programs.

Viral hemorrhagic septicemia, also known as the VHS virus, is spreading at an alarming rate in the Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada. This often deadly virus can cause extensive hemorrhaging in several different species of fish, including bass. Large fish kills have already occurred, and more are likely to happen in the near future.

In an effort to stop the spread of the disease, and to protect the nation's aquaculture industry, the APHIS issued an emergency Federal order in November 2006 that prohibited the interstate and international transfer of live fish from states and provinces known to have the virus, basically the states and provinces surrounding the Great Lakes. Needless to say, tournaments on many northern waters had a new obstacle.

During a February trip to Washington, D.C., Horton was able to make contact with APHIS through the help of Aaron Hobbs of the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation.

"It just didn't make sense biologically," said Horton. "If a fish could swim across the boundary, then the virus was going to be on both sides as well. Stopping anglers from carrying live fish across the imaginary line wasn't going to solve the virus issue. Fortunately for us as anglers, the staff at APHIS agreed and wanted to work with us to resolve the issue."

Not long after the initial conversations with APHIS, Horton followed up with a letter to Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Johanns asking that the department make development of the new regulations concerning VHS a top priority.

"We were concerned that the new regulations that we were working on with APHIS, which would reduce impacts on tournaments, wouldn't be in place prior to the 2007 tournament season," said Horton. "The VHS regulations weren't a priority within the Agriculture department's administration and we wanted to change that. Apparently, our letter did some good."

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