Two MO organizations oppose live bait bans

JEFFERSON CITY, MO (KFVS) - Two Missouri organizations oppose a Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) proposal to ban sales of crayfish as live bait.

The Missouri Farm Bureau has joined the Missouri Aquaculture Association in opposing the proposal.

The proposal is set to go into effect on September 1, 2012.

Farm Bureau says the proposal will not only affect sport fishermen, it will also affect fish farmers who raise crayfish for a portion of their income and the bait shops that sell crayfish.

MDC instituted the ban this year on March 1, but quickly suspended it until September.

Previous regulations allow bait shops to sell only four crayfish species native to Missouri as live bait.

According to the Missouri Aquaculture Association, none of the four is considered invasive.

Many stores and the anglers they serve are unaware of the impending ban.

"The regulation banning the sale of crayfish caught all Missouri fish farmers, fishermen, and bait shops completely off guard," said Kevin Flowers, Missouri Aquaculture Association president.  "None of the stakeholders knew of this regulation until after the comment period closed."

Although MDC believes Missouri fishermen are one of the major contributors in spreading invasive species of crayfish by dumping bait crayfish from bait bucket into the water, Farm Bureau believes MDC's previous regulation allowing the sale of four native crayfish species is adequate if enforced.

"Banning sales of all crayfish sales for sport fishing is regulation overkill," says Blake Hurst, Missouri Farm Bureau president.  "As an agricultural organization, we support the aquaculture industry and many fish farmers in the state raise crayfish for bait shops.  But many of our members are also avid fishermen who enjoy using live crayfish.  The Missouri Department of Conservation should use previous regulations instead of an outright ban."

A petition is now being circulated for citizens who oppose the ban.

Those petitions, found at most tackle and bait stores and online at mofb.org, will be collected June 1 and June 28.  At that time the signatures will be delivered to MDC.

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