Michigan Import Regulations


Last update: 8/23/16

! 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.

State Aquaculture Regulatory Authorities 

Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development:

Dr. Stephen Hussey
Aquaculture Program Manager
Animal Industry Division
Michigan Dept. of Agriculture and Rural Development
P.O. Box 30017
Lansing, MI 48909
(517) 284-5685

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Ed Eisch
MDNR Fisheries Division
15210 US 31
Beulah, MI 49617
(231) 325-4611

Competent Fish Health Professional:
Gary Whelan
MDNR Fisheries Division
P.O. Box 30466
Lansing, MI 48909
(517) 373-6948

State Fish Health Authorities / Laboratories

Dr. Mohamed Faisal
Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory
Michigan State University
S-112 Plant Biology Bldg, East Lansing, MI  48824
ph: 517-432-8258; fax: 517-432-8260

Aquaculture / Baitfish Industry Contacts

Regional Aquaculture Extension Specialist (RAES) – North Central Region
Chris Weeks
(517) 353-2298

Michigan Aquaculture Association

Michigan Bait Dealers Association
Richard Weidenhammer
(231) 548-5323

Michigan Department of Agriculture Oversight:

State veterinary authority

State of Michigan veterinary authority is granted to the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA), Animal Industry Division. Health certifications accepted by MDARD must be facilitated through USDA Accredited Veterinarians or American Fisheries Society (AFS)-certified Aquatic Animal Health Inspectors, and disease testing submitted to USDA approved laboratories.

MI aquaculture farm registration

All commercial aquaculture facilities residing in MI must be registered with MDARD as promulgated through Michigan Aquaculture Development Act 199 of 1996.  A list of approved species for aquaculture and importation requirements for Michigan is found within this act. Additional information can be found on the MDARD Aquaculture Facility Licensing website.

MI fish health testing for aquaculture

MDARD assists MI aquaculture facilities in development of fish health certification plans for stocking public waters.  Assistance may include establishing farm sampling programs, identification of fish health officials and laboratories for fish health testing.  Actual permits for public water stocking are obtained thru MDNR (see below). 

Importation and movement of live aquatic animals

Fish importation requirements differ based on the species imported and purpose of imporation. (e.g. production vs baitfish or stocking of public waters.) Fish importation for aquaculture is summarized on MDARD's Aquaculture Importation Website, and as follows:

Any movement, importing, or exporting of aquaculture species shall be in compliance with the Animal Industry Act, 1988 PA 466, MCL 287.729a, for purposes of obtaining a planting permit.

(1)  Aquaculture imported into the State shall be accompanied by 1 of the following issued by an accredited veterinarian or an AFS-certified Fish Health Official:

              (a)  Official interstate health certificate.

              (b)  Official interstate certificate of veterinary inspection.

              (c)  Fish disease inspection report.

(2)  A person shall not import aquaculture from a hatchery or other facility with a record of an emergency fish disease within the past 2 years.

(3)  A person shall not import aquaculture exhibiting clinical signs of disease.

Live aquaculture species are required to be free from those diseases identified by AFS Blue Book as Emergency Diseases. The current list includes:

VHS, IHN, Ceratomyxosis shastal, and BKD. 

Imports must show that the shipment is free of these diseases for species that are known to be susceptible.  VHS testing is required for most aquaculture species. Contact MDARD for a complete list.

Important:  For live aquatic animal imports intended for stocking in public waters see MDNR requirements below as they are required to meet both MDARD and MDNR requirements.  

Prior-entry permit for aquaculture importation

Starting 2010, a prior-entry permit is required from MDARD for each shipment of live aquatic animals intended for importation into the state of Michigan for aquaculture use. See MDARD's  Aquaculture Importation Website

Michigan Department of Natural Resources Oversight

State natural resource authority

Protection of the State’s natural resources is allocated to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) in the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA) act 451 of 1994.

Baitfish, game fish and hunting licensing

Anyone over the age of 17 taking aquatic species; hunting, trapping, or possessing wild animal requires a license administrated by the MDNR.

Taking of baitfish from state waters for commercial use, or importation of baitfish for commercial use requires a baitfish license administrated by the MDNR per act MCL 324.48728 – 324.48731.

For licensing and cost information see MCL 324.48732.

Permits and exceptions are listed in MCL 324.48735:

Exceptions may be obtained with permit only (issued by MDNR) for the following activities:

                Fish culture
                Scientific investigation
                Stocking and possession of live fish in ponds, pools and aquariums
                Importation of live game fish and/or eggs   

Baitfish wholesale, retail and sales permitting (VHS) /  Baitfish use (VHS)

All live fish sales under the jurisdiction of MDNR must now comply with the Fish Disease Control Order (FO245.16)

Included in FO245 are restrictions pertaining to all of the following:
            Baitfish exclusion zones
            State-wide provisions
            Commercial bait imports
            Commercial bait harvests
            Fish Health requirements
            Certification status of a facility

Michigan Public Water Stocking

Stocking live fish in public waters falls under MCL 324.48735: “A person shall not plant any spawn, fry, or fish of any kind in any of the public waters of this state or any other waters under the jurisdiction of this state without first obtaining a permit from the department that states the species, number, and approximate size or age of the spawn, fry, or fish to be planted and the name and location of the waters where the spawn, fry, or fish shall be planted.”             

State of Michigan Public Water Stocking Permits are available online.

Fish health certifications are required for nearly all public water stockings:


All salmonids to be stocked in public waters will have to be certified as disease free for the following:
                Whirling disease


VHS - most fish species entering the state of Michigan for public waters require VHS testing. MDNR is currently updating this list. Contact MDNR for a full list.

Fish being imported from known or suspected areas with heterosporis will need to be certified free of this disease to be permitted for stocking in public waters thus the exact location of the importing facility must be provided. Fish being imported from out-of-state sources of the indicated species will need to be certified free of largemouth bass virus, channel catfish virus, and sturgeon virus to be permitted for stocking in public waters.

MI prohibitive species

Prohibited and restricted species are defined in the Michigan Natural Resources and

Environmental Protection Act 451 of 1994, Section 324.4130.  Michigan's list of prohibited species.