Invasive species precautions required for anglers

IRON RIVER— The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently strengthened regulations to protect lakes and streams from invasive species. Anyone fishing with live or cut bait or practicing catch-and-release fishing will need to take precautions to limit the movement of invasive species and fish diseases.
    For anglers, the Michigan DNR’s Fisheries Order 245 regarding the release of baitfish, collection and use of baitfish and cut bait, and release of captured fish, specifically is as follows:
    • A person shall not release baitfish in any waters of this state. A person who collects fish shall not use the fish as bait or cut bait except in the inland lake, stream or Great Lake where the fish was caught, or in a connecting waterway of the inland lake, stream or Great Lake where the fish was caught if the fish could freely move between the original location of capture and the location of release.
     • A person, who catches fish other than baitfish in a lake, stream, Great Lake or connecting waterway shall only release the fish in the lake, stream or Great Lake where the fish was caught, or in a connecting waterway of the lake, stream or Great Lake where the fish was caught if the fish could freely move between the original location of capture and the location of release.
    Whether purchased or collected, unused baitfish should be disposed of on land or in the trash – never in the water. Any baitfish an angler collects may be used only in the waters where it was originally collected.
    “It is important to clarify that anglers are allowed to catch and release fish,” said Seth Herbst, the DNR’s aquatic species and regulatory affairs manager.
    “Anglers who are catching and releasing fish should only release the fish back into the same water or in a connecting body of water the fish could have reached on its own.”
    Moving fish from one body of water to another can spread fish diseases, like heterosporis (a parasite of yellow perch) and viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSv), a serious disease that can affect many fish species.
    Fish diseases also can be spread to new locations when water carrying parasites or infection is transferred via bilges, live wells or ballast tanks.
    Here are some simple rules of thumb to help boaters and anglers navigate these laws:
    • CLEAN boats, trailers and equipment.
    • DRAIN live wells, bilges and all water – pull all drain plugs.
    • DRY boats and equipment.
    • DISPOSE of unwanted bait in the trash.
    The Iron County Lakes and Streams Partnership (ICLSP) works with residents and visitors to prevent and control aquatic invasive species and the economic and environmental harm that results.
    “We want to educate those who enjoy our valuable water resources so our waters remain healthy for future generations,” stated Mike Golas, president of ICLSP.