Missouri Farm Bureau has joined the Missouri Aquaculture Association in opposing a Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) proposal to ban sales of live crayfish used for fish bait. If the new regulation is not stopped, the ban will take effect Sept. 1 this year. Farm Bureau says the proposed ban will not only affect sport fishermen, but fish farmers who raise crayfish for a portion of their income and the bait shops which sell crayfish.
MDC instituted the ban earlier 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 are 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 proposed 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 unused crayfish from bait buckets 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 live 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 fisherman 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 the end of June the signatures will be delivered to MDC.