Regulations for hatchery-reared smallmouth bass and largemouth bass (collectively, black bass), were adopted, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens announced today. The new regulations will ease the process for hatchery-raised largemouth bass to be sold for food in New York state by allowing those who purchase fish from a licensed hatchery, such as fish markets, to resell the fish in New York. Under current regulations, only licensed hatchery operators can sell black bass in the state. Hatchery-reared smallmouth bass and largemouth bass may still be sold for stocking purposes, as presently provided for, but smallmouth bass may not be sold for food purposes.
"The regulations will make it easier for aquaculturists and fish
markets within and outside the state to sell hatchery-reared largemouth
bass for food, while continuing to protect wild bass populations that
are the foundation of our popular and economically important bass
fisheries," said DEC Commissioner Martens. "New York provides excellent
fishing opportunities for largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. DEC
recognized the need to include measures in the regulations to safeguard
the state's black bass sport fishery.
DEC worked with representatives of the aquaculture industry and the
New York Farm Bureau to establish procedures requiring adequate record
keeping to ensure that black bass being sold commercially originate from
licensed aquaculture operations and not from wild sources.
Aquaculturists were supportive of the regulations which do not provide
for the sale of smallmouth bass for food purposes, a measure that was
the subject of a number of comments DEC received from bass fishing
"This proposal is the victory New York's black bass hatcheries have
been fishing for," said Dean Norton, president of the New York Farm
Bureau. "On behalf of our members, I would like to thank Commissioner
Martens and DEC for moving forward with this balanced initiative that
helps farmers, while still protecting wild fish populations. Opening up
the New York state market for New York fish growers is an important step
in helping these businesses grow and support new farm jobs. This is
also a win for consumers because it allows our fish farmers to meet a
strong and growing demand for black bass in New York, and not be forced
to export their products to Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, simply to
stay in business."
The adopted regulations address sale of bass for human consumption
including labeling largemouth bass containers used for transportation,
retaining purchase and sale records by distributors, and requiring that
largemouth bass being sold live in retail markets must be killed before
being transferred to retail customers. Largemouth and smallmouth bass
being sold for stocking into waters within the state must come from
sources that have been inspected for, and found free of, harmful fish
pathogens - a requirement that has been in effect since 2006.
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