Illinois Import Regulations

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Latest Update:  08/17/16

! Important Notice !

Aquaculturists transporting or selling aquatic animals are responsible for following current regulations required by each state in which the activity occurs (selling or transporting) and are advised to contact state regulatory agencies responsible for permitting these activities.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources:

State Aquaculture Regulatory Authorities   

For questions about Illinois Aquaculture, Transportation, Stocking, Importation, and/or Possession of Aquatic Life please contact:

Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Aquaculture and Aquatic Nuisance Species Program
One Natural Resources Way
Springfield, IL 62702-1271
Phone: 217-785-8772
Fax: 217-785-2438
Email: dnr.aquaculture@illinois.gov

Or contact:

Blake Ruebush
Aquaculture Project Specialist
Aquaculture and Aquatic Nuisance Species Program
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
One Natural Resources Way
Springfield, IL 62702-1271
Phone: 217-558-4743
Fax: 217-785-2438
Email: blake.ruebush@illinois.gov

Kevin Irons
Aquaculture and Aquatic Nuisance Species Program Manager
Aquaculture and Aquatic Nuisance Species Program
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
One Natural Resources Way
Springfield, IL 62702-1271
Phone: 217-557-0719
Fax: 217-785-2438
Email: kevin.irons@illinois.gov

Illinois Department of Agriculture: 

Jeff Squibb
Illinois Department of Agriculture
Marketing and Promotion
State Fairgrounds, P. O. Box 19281
Springfield, Illinois 62794-9281
Phone: 217/524-9129
Fax: 217/524-5960
Email: jeff.squibb@illinois.gov

Fish Health Specialist for State Fish Health Issues

In-state sample collection/prep/submission only:

Paul Hitchens, Aquaculture Specialist
Aquaculture Specialist
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
Phone: 618-453-5590
Email: hitchens@siu.edu

Aquaculture Industry Contacts

Illinois Private Fish Dealer List
A listing of private fish dealers is available on the I Fish Illinois website: https://www.ifishillinois.org/programs/fish_dealers.pdf

Summary of Illinois Aquaculture and Fish Importation Regulations

Nearly all regulatory authority for aquaculture for food, stocking, or baitfish purposes is promulgated through IDNR.  Information about IDNR regulations can be found at the I Fish Illinois website: :  https://www.ifishillinois.org/programs/aquaculture.html

Much of the requirements for aquaculture activities in the state are covered by the following regulations:

AQUACULTURE, TRANSPORTATION, STOCKING, IMPORTATION AND/OR POSSESSION OF AQUATIC LIFE
(17 ILL. ADM.CODE PART 870)
http://www.ilga.gov/commission/jcar/admincode/017/01700870sections.html  

VIRAL HEMORRHAGIC SEPTICEMIA (VHS) (17 ILL. ADM.CODE PART 875)
http://www.ilga.gov/commission/jcar/admincode/017/01700875sections.html

INJURIOUS SPECIES (17 ILL. ADM.CODE PART 805)
http://www.ilga.gov/commission/jcar/admincode/017/01700805sections.html

FISH AND AQUATIC LIFE CODE (515 ILCS 5/)
http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=1728&ChapterID=42

AQUATIC LIFE APPROVED SPECIES LIST
https://www.ifishillinois.org/programs/aquaculture/aquatic_approved_species.pdf

Resident Aquatic Life Dealer License (retail and wholesale)
(515 ILCS 5/20-70) Non-resident and resident aquatic life dealers
Resident Aquatic Life Dealer License is required for IL residents conducting a retail fish market or selling from a truck aquatic life that are protected species (except minnows) and indigenous to Illinois.  Resident Wholesale Fish Dealer is issued to IL residents conducting a wholesale fish market or selling aquatic life (except minnows) wholesale that are protected species and indigenous to Illinois.  These are annual permits with fee expiring on 1/31 of every year.  Call DNR at 217-785-3423 or 217-782-2965 for applications.

Resident Minnow Dealer License (retail and wholesale)
(515 ILCS 5/20-80) Minnow dealers license; penalties
Resident Retail Minnow Dealer License is required for retail sale of minnows and frogs for bait.  Resident Wholesale Minnow Dealer License allows the wholesale of minnows and frogs.  These are annual permits with fee expiring on 1/31 of every year.  Call DNR at 217-785-3423 or 217-782-2965 for applications.

Non-Resident Aquatic Life Dealer License
(515 ILCS 5/20-70) Non-resident and resident aquatic life dealers
Non-Resident Aquatic Life Dealer License allows a non-resident of IL to sell or ship to other wholesalers, retailers, or consumers in IL, any protected aquatic life (*including minnows).  This is an annual permit with fee and expires on 1/31 of every year.  Call DNR at 217-785-3423 or 217-782-2965 for application.

Resident and Non-Resident Mussel Dealer Permits
(515 ILCS 5/20-75) Mussel dealer permits; fees; violations
Resident Mussel Dealer Permit is required for Illinois residents who receive, buy, or offer to buy or who act as agents or brokers in the receipt or purchase of mussels.  Non-resident Mussel Dealer Permit is required for non-residents who purchase mussels in Illinois.  These are annual permits with fee expiring on 1/31 of every year.  Call DNR at 217-785-3423 or 217-782-2965 for applications.

VHS-Susceptible and Salmonid Import Permits (Live fish imports / fish health requirements)
(515 ILCS 5/10‑105) Fish importation permits
Live fish, viable fish eggs, or viable sperm of any species or hybrid of salmon or trout may be imported into the State only by the holder of a fish importation permit and other required State permits. Importation permits shall be issued at no charge to a person who has applied on a Department special permit form, no less than 15 days nor more than 30 days before shipment, provided that the shipment is not considered detrimental to the fishery resource of the State.

An importation permit shall be issued only if the source hatchery is inspected and found free of those diseases designated by administrative rule of the Department, or any other diseases, that may be detrimental to the fishery resource of the State. Inspections may be carried out only by persons recognized by the Department as competent in the diagnosis of fish diseases (contact IDNR Program Manager for clarification).  An importation permit may be granted by the Department for extended periods of up to 6 months from the date the source hatchery is certified as being disease free.

Importation permit requirements do not apply to salmon or trout in transit through the State that will not be released from their original containers.

(17 ILL. ADM.CODE sec 875.30) Permits
b)         Issuance Criteria
The Department shall consider the following in determining whether to issue a permit to import live VHS-susceptible species:
      1)   whether the request is for persons or businesses holding an Aquaculture Permit, Aquatic Life
            Dealer's License or Minnow Dealer's License, or research or educational institutions for
            scientific purposes;
     2)    whether the supplier of the fish stocks has an acceptable Fish Health Inspection Report on file
            with the Department; 
     3)    for importation of minnows and species commonly used as bait, whether the supplier/importer
            has submitted an officially recognized management plan (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control
            Points (HACCP)/Best Management Practices (BMP)) to minimize transfer of exotic species and
            potential pathogens; and
     4)    whether the Department approves of the live market stocking locations based upon the
            potential risk to the fishery resource of the State.

(17 ILL. ADM.CODE sec. 870.50) Unlawful Acts
A salmonid import permit will be issued only if the source hatchery has been inspected within the last 12 months and found free of, but not limited to, the following disease agents: VHS-Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia Virus; IHN-Infectious Hematopoetic Necrosis Virus; CS-Ceratomyxosis (Ceratomyxa shasta); PKD-Proliferative Kidney Disease agent; and/or any other disease agents that are not known to be present in the Great Lakes Basin.
      1)  A salmonid import permit may be issued for a period of up to 6 months following the inspection
           of the source hatchery. The salmonid import permit will be reissued if the owner/operator of the
           source hatchery certifies that there has been no change in the disease status of the source
           hatchery in the 6 month period following the annual inspection. A bill of sale, listing quantity,
           species, and hatchery of origin shall be provided to and retained by the final recipient of the fish,
           until the fish are disposed of.
    2)   The Department recognizes persons inspecting hatcheries using the methods of diagnosis
           found in "Suggested Procedures for the Detection and Identification of Certain Finfish and
           Shellfish Pathogens" 4th ed., Version 1 (1994), published by the Fish Health Section of the
           American Fisheries Society or the "Manual of Compliance to the Fish Health Protection
           Regulations of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada (1988) (no further
           amendments or editions are included), as competent in the diagnosis of fish diseases,
           unless a clearcut conflict of interest exists.

VHS-Susceptible and Salmonid Import Permits are available from the Division of Fisheries, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield IL 62702-1271 or by contacting dnr.aquaculture@illinois.gov.

Restricted Species Transportation Permits
(17 ILL. ADM.CODE sec. 870.60) Restricted Species Transportation Permit Procedures
A Restricted Species Transportation Permit is required for live grass carp, bighead carp, silver carp, or hybrid grass carp. Applications must be received by the Division of Fisheries at least two weeks prior to the proposed shipment date. A "Restricted Species Transportation Permit" shall be required for each shipment, except that extended permits covering regular periodic deliveries may be granted by the Department pursuant to Section 10-105 of the Fish and Aquatic Life Code. Triploid grass carp under 4 inches in length cannot be shipped, transported or stocked and may be possessed only by authorized aquaculture permit holders.  Some exemptions exist for private lake and pond owners.  Restricted Species Transportation Permits are available from the Division of Fisheries, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield IL 62702-1271 or by contacting dnr.aquaculture@illinois.gov.

In summary, persons wishing to import live aquatic animals into the state from an outside state must obtain:
       a) Non-Resident Aquatic Life Dealer License from IDNR (annual – fee)
            http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/LPR/Pages/Commercial.aspx
       b) VHS-Susceptible Species or Salmonid Importation Permit from IDNR (time limit – no fee)
           Contact dnr.aquaculture@illinois.gov for application materials and information.
       c) Restricted Species Transportation Permit, if the species is not listed on the IL Aquatic Life
           Approved Species List (Examples: Tilapia spp., Barramundi, and Triploid Grass Carp)

Aquaculture Facility Permits
(515 ILCS 5/20‑90) Aquaculture permits
Any person who shall engage in the breeding, hatching, propagation, or raising of aquatic life, whether indigenous or non‑indigenous to this State, shall first procure a permit from the Department to do so. Aquatic life specified, which is bred, hatched, propagated or raised by a person holding a permit as provided for in this Section, may be transported and sold for food or stocking purposes. Permittees who sell aquatic life propagated or raised under this permit are exempt from possessing a fish or minnow dealers license.

(17 ill. ADM.CODE sec. 870.30) Aquaculture Permit Application and Requirements
      1)     Applicants wishing to import/possess aquatic life that appears on the Approved List shall
              submit their aquaculture permit application at least 4 weeks prior to the
              importation/possession.
     2)      Applicants wishing to import/possess aquatic life not on the Approved List may submit an
              application for the aquaculture permit with the Department. The Department will review the
              permit application and make its determination within 8 weeks after receipt of the application. 
     3)      Letters of authorization shall have a beginning and ending date.

Aquaculture Permits are available from the Division of Fisheries, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield IL 62702-1271 or by contacting dnr.aquaculture@illinois.gov.

Special Circumstances Authorization
(17 ILL. ADM.CODE sec. 875.50) Unlawful Acts/Penalties
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources will issue Special Circumstances Authorization (Illinois Administrative Rule regarding Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia 875.50 b) to licensed commercial fishers to allow the overland transport of legal commercial fish (including VHSv susceptible Channel Catfish Ictalurus punctatus) and the water needed to haul fish from commercially fishable waters to be stocked into wholly privately owned water bodies within the State of Illinois.  Persons moving fish (subject to all other commercial fishing regulations) for stocking into private waters only, MUST have a SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES AUTHORIZATION present while transporting fish and associated waters within Illinois with all fish being documented on back of this authorization regarding date of catch and transport, location caught (minimum of River/Pool; or lake name), and destination address.  Private landowner must sign for receipt of these fish immediately upon stocking.  Special Circumstance Authorization Permits are available for Illinois licensed commercial fishermen from the Division of Fisheries, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield IL 62702-1271 or by contacting dnr.aquaculture@illinois.gov.

Injurious Species
(17 ILL. ADM.CODE sec. 805) Injurious Species
Injurious species shall not be possessed, propagated, bought, sold, bartered or offered to be bought, sold, bartered, transported, traded, transferred or loaned to any other person or institution unless a permit is first obtained from the Department of Natural Resources in accordance with Section 805.40 of this Part, except persons engaged in interstate transport for lawful commercial purposes who do not buy, sell, barter, trade, transfer, loan or offer to do so in Illinois may transport injurious species across Illinois without an injurious species permit from the Department.  Injurious Species Permits are available for zoological, educational, medical, or scientific purposes from the Division of Fisheries, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield IL 62702-1271 or by contacting dnr.aquaculture@illinois.gov.

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