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Great Lakes Article:

DEC to hold meetings next week on virus
By The Citizen staff report
The Citizen
Published December 28, 2006

State Department of Environmental Conservation public meetings will be held about a virus that has killed freshwater fish in Lake Ontario and Conesus Lake, a western Finger Lake.

Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia has spread from continental Europe and Japan to North America. It first impacted trout and salmon, but it has been found in Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, the Niagara River and the St. Lawrence River.

VHS has caused a kill of freshwater drum and round goby in the Bay of Quinte in Lake Ontario. VHS also has been linked to a walleye die off in Conesus Lake, deaths of round goby in Lake Ontario and to the deaths of muskellunge, burbot and round goby in the St. Lawrence River.

The virus does not present a threat to public health, according to the DEC. During the meetings, officials will explain what actions have been taken on the state and federal levels to confirm the presence of VHS in New York water bodies and in the Great Lakes.

In October, the United State Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service prohibited the importation of some live fish species from Ontario and Quebec and prohibited the interstate movement of the same species from eight states bordering the Great Lakes.

The order was undertaken to limit the spread of VHS in the hopes of preserving valuable fish populations. DEC filed emergency regulations Nov. 21 to hopefully halt the further spread of VHS in New York water bodies.

Under the regulations, commercial collection of bait fish is forbidden where VHS has been detected. The personal possession of bait fish has been limited to a total of 100 and limited to the water where the fish was collected. Live fish destined to be released must be certified free of VHS and other serious fish diseases.

Public comments on the public policy regarding VHS can be submitted to the DEC by writing to Shaun Keeler, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4750 or by calling the DEC at (518) 402-8920.

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