VHS sessions set; nine Jan. meetings

Staff report

Albany — A series of informational meetings on Viral Hemorrhagic
Septicemia (VHS) will be held across the state next month, DEC
officials have announced.

The sessions will be used to provide anglers, live bait dealers
and others with information on VHS as well as the federal and state
regulations established in response to the discovery of VHS in New
York waters and others in the Great Lakes system.

“Based upon the feedback we’ve received to date, I think the
meetings are going to draw bait dealers – folks who collect and
wholesale bait, and retailers – as well as anglers,” DEC Fisheries
Bureau Chief Doug Stang said.

The meetings will kick off Tuesday, Jan. 2, from 7-9 p.m. at the
Oswego County BOCES atrium in Mexico (Region 7). Other meetings
have been scheduled for:

  • Wednesday, Jan. 3, from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. at the Holiday Inn,
    Route 414 in Waterloo (Region 8).
  • Wednesday, Jan. 3, from 4-7 p.m. – with a presentation from 4-6
    – at the State Office Building, first floor conference room, 317
    Washington St. in Watertown (Region 6).
  • Thursday, Jan. 4, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the New Paltz High
    School auditorium, South Putt Corners Road (Region 3).
  • Monday, Jan. 8, from 7-9 p.m. at Woodlawn Beach State Park,
    Route 5, Hamburg (Region 9).
  • Monday, Jan. 8, from 7-9 p.m. at Chenango Valley High School,
    Chenango Bridge (Region 7).
  • Tuesday, Jan. 9, from 7-9 p.m. at SUNY Plattsburgh’s Angel
    College Center alumni room, Plattsburgh (Region 5).
  • Tuesday, Jan. 9, from 7-9 p.m. at the Best Western Sovereign
    Hotel, 1228 Western Ave., Albany (Region 4).
  • Tuesday, Jan. 9, from 6-7:30 p.m. in the Yonkers Riverfront
    Library’s community room, One Larkin Center (at the foot of Dock
    Street and Buena Vista Avenue), Yonkers (Region 3).

VHS has been linked to fish kills involving warmwater species in
Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, Niagara River, Lake Erie and
Conesus Lake. The discovery of dead adult walleyes in Conesus
marked the first VHS case outside the Great Lakes system.

The virus doesn’t pose any threat to humans, but DEC is
concerned about the spread of VHS, particularly through the
movement of baitfish. Emerald shiners and bluntnose minnows have
been identified as carriers of the disease in New York.

Emergency regulations now restrict the commercial collection of
baitfish from New York waters where VHS has been identified, and
also limit anglers to possessing more than 100 baitfish and
restricts their use to the waters where they were collected.
Testing of fish for VHS and other diseases is also required if they
are to be stocked in New York waters.

A federal order also restricts the transport of numerous species
of live fish from the eight states bordering the Great Lakes,
including New York, as well as Quebec and Ontario.

At the public informational meetings, DEC staff will provide
information on VHS, describe the federal and New York State actions
taken in response to confirming the presence of VHS in New York
waters and others in the Great Lakes system, and answer questions.
Meeting attendees will have the opportunity to offer comments and
ask questions.

In addition to enacting emergency regulatory measures, DEC has
proposed a permanent rulemaking that is available for public
comment until Jan. 22. Formal public comments on the draft
regulation will not be accepted during the informational
meetings.

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