DEEP: Walleye Stocking Resumes After Postponement

December 6, 2006

Walleye Stocking Resumes After Postponement

Fingerlings Test Negative for Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia

The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protectionís (DEP) Division of Inland Fisheries has announced that the stocking of 55,000 walleye fingerlings has resumed. Walleye are a popular game and food fish that are stocked in ten Connecticut lakes to support sport fisheries. The four-inch long fingerlings were initially scheduled to be transported from a hatchery in Minnesota for stocking in Connecticut waters in early November. Stocking had to be postponed, however, due to an outbreak of a disease, viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS), in the Great Lakes region. The hatchery supplying the fingerlings has been tested and VHS was not found. Walleye stocking was subsequently rescheduled and will be completed this week.

"The DEP would like to reassure anglers that the originally planned walleye stocking will be completed by December 9th," said Edward C. Parker, Chief of the DEP Bureau of Natural Resources. "Delaying the yearly stocking was a necessary precaution that the DEP had to take in order to ensure the health of all fish in Connecticutís lakes and ponds," said Parker.

VHS is a highly contagious pathogen of fresh and saltwater fish. Due to its high mortality and severe economic consequences, the United States Department of Agricultureís (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service issued an emergency order on October 24, prohibiting the importation of walleye, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and a number of trout, salmon, herring and other game and baitfish species from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin as well as two Canadian Provinces where there were confirmed outbreaks of VHS. The disease does not pose a risk to people, but the VHS virus has been found to infect at least 37 fish species. The federal order was amended in mid-November allowing the exportation/importation of VHS- susceptible fish species from VHS-affected or at-risk states provided that there is appropriate documentation verifying that the fish culture facility had tested negative for VHS virus.

The DEP requires that all hatcheries and bait and tackle shops in the state obtain a permit prior to importing or stocking fish. "All legal requirements concerning the transport of live fish should be followed diligently. If VHS were to infect Connecticut waters it has the ability to cause large fish kills that could have a significant effect on recreational fishing and the aquatic environment," said Parker. VHS is also a potential threat to private hatcheries in Connecticut and other states.

Walleye typically larger than 18 inches in length (the minimum size that can be legally harvested by anglers) are found in Gardner Lake (Salem), Lake Saltonstall (East Haven, Branford), Saugatuck Reservoir (Easton) and Squantz Pond (New Fairfield). Recent sampling surveys by DEP biologists and reports from anglers indicate that there are walleye up to 12 pounds and 30 inches awaiting anglers in these lakes. Additional waters that were first stocked in the fall of 2001 are also starting to produce legal size fish for anglers. The new walleye lakes are: Coventry Lake (Coventry), Beach Pond (Voluntown), Mashapaug Lake (Union), Batterson Park Pond (Farmington) and Lake Housatonic (Derby-Monroe-Seymour-Oxford-Shelton). Anglers can already find some walleye in these lakes up to 24 inches and six pounds.

For more information about DEPís Inland Fisheries Division, or to access permits forms online, please visit the DEP website at www.ct.gov/dep. Information on importing live fish including permit requirements can also be found in the 2006 CT Anglerís Guide, or by contacting the Inland Fisheries Division by phone at
860-424-3474.