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Saturday, Nov. 18


DNR commends USDA for amending VHS fish order

Amended order now allows for interstate movement of VHS-susceptible live species of fish under certain conditions          Send a link to a friend

[NOV. 18, 2006]  SPRINGFIELD -- On Thursday, Illinois Department of Natural Resources Acting Director Sam Flood applauded the actions of the U.S. Department of Agriculture for reconsidering a comprehensive ban on live imports and exports of certain fish species throughout the Great Lakes region to control the spread of viral hemorrhagic septicemia.

Earlier in the week, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service issued an amended federal order that replaces the original viral hemorrhagic septicemia order issued on Oct. 24. The amended order now allows for interstate movement of live species of fish susceptible to viral hemorrhagic septicemia as long as they meet certain conditions. This order affects the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and the provinces of Quebec and Ontario.

"The amended order addresses some of the concerns that Illinois' aquaculture industry had in regard to shipping fish that were destined for human consumption, by allowing movement of fish to slaughter facilities," said Flood. "These fish may now be moved, even if they are not tested for VHS, as long as they have a permit from an area APHIS office."

Procedures to allow for permits are currently being worked out with the USDA's Illinois Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service office. Fish destined for research and diagnostic facilities will also fall under these procedures.

Last month, Flood sent a letter to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service asking that the agency reconsider its original order, which would have put an undue financial hardship on the aquaculture industry in the Great Lakes states.

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Had the original order remained in effect, estimated direct impacts of the 37 restricted species alone would have been $2.28 million per year in lost sales revenue for Illinois.

Viral hemorrhagic septicemia poses no threat to humans, and even if the virus were located at an Illinois aquaculture facility, it poses little danger for spread to other aquaculture operations.

The state, tribal or federal fishery facilities from the eight states that have been identified as affected by viral hemorrhagic septicemia or at risk may export fish if there is certification showing the fish are free of the virus. The testing must be conducted according to procedures developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the American Fisheries Society, or by the World Organization for Animal Health for Import and Export. The receiving state must agree to the shipment of those fish.

A list of species susceptible to viral hemorrhagic septicemia and affected by this order is available at www.aphis.usda.gov/vs/aqua/.

[Illinois Department of Natural Resources news release]


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