Skip to main content

Wisconsin Import Regulations

Last updated: April 29th, 2021

! 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  

Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection:

Dr. Myron J. Kebus
Wisconsin Department of Agriculture,
Trade & Consumer Protection (WDATCP)
Division of Animal Health
2811 Agriculture Drive
Madison, Wisconsin 53708-8911
608-224-4871 fax

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources: 

Kate Strom Hiorns
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
DNR Central Office – Madison
PO Box 7921
Madison WI 53707
(608) 266-0828

State Fish Health Authorities / Laboratories

Dr. Myron J. Kebus, WDATCP
State Aquaculture Veterinarian
608-224-4871 fax

Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
445 Easterday Lane
Madison    WI    53706
Phone:  608/262-5432
Fax:  847/574-8085
Accredited by: AAVLD

Aquaculture Industry Contacts

Wisconsin Aquaculture Association

Wisconsin Aquaculture Extension:

UW-Stevens Point - Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility

Emma Wiermaa
Aquaculture Outreach Specialist
UW-Stevens Point
Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility
Bayfield, Wisconsin
Phone: (715) 779-3461

Wisconsin Fish Importation Regulations Summary

Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) provides a good descriptive summary of aquaculture regulations on their Fish Farm Web Page.

Most state of Wisconsin regulations dealing with aquaculture are found in Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection codes ATCP 10.60-10.67.

Note: the following summary is based on the author's interpretation of the DATCP regulations, DATCP advises persons wishing to import fish go to their website indicated above.

Fish importation into the state of Wisconsin is under shared authorities of DATCP (aquaculture and fish health) and WDNR (non-native species). Regulations include but are not limited to :ATCP 10.62, WI Act 207, Statute 29.735 and NR40.

Wisconsin Act 207 (2012) exempts Wisconsin fish farmers from having to acquire an import permit only if: 95.60 (2) (e) a person bringing fish or fish eggs from a fish farm in another state to a fish farm in this state is not required to have a permit under par. (a) if the person has a fish health certificate that covers the fish or fish eggs and that complies with the requirements for fish health certificates specified by the department by rule.

HOWEVER, imports on  non-native species do require a permit from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. This requirement is based on WI Statute 29.735:

29.735 Importation of fish.

(1) No person may bring into this state any fish, or fish eggs, of a species that is not native to this state for the purpose of introduction into the waters of the state, as defined in s.281.01 (18), of use as bait or of rearing in a fish farm without having a permit issued by the department.

281.01 (18) "Waters of the state" includes those portions of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior within the boundaries of this state, and all lakes, bays, rivers, streams, springs, ponds, wells, impounding reservoirs, marshes, watercourses, drainage systems and other surface water or groundwater, natural or artificial, public or private, within this state or its jurisdiction.

NR40 Invasive Species Identification, Classification and Control
Under NR40, native fish species are considered those listed in "Wisconsin Fishes 2000: Status and Distribution" by Lyons, Cochran, and Fago. That, and a list of WI species, can be found at DNR website Game Fishes of Wisconsin.

A general non-native species import general permit is available and only allows the import of fish species defined by s.NR40.02 (30), Wis. Adm. Code, as "nonnative fish species in the aquaculture industry", which are arctic char, Atlantic salmon, brown trout, chinook salmon, coho salmon, rainbow trout, pink salmon, redear sunfish, tiger trout, and tilapia. There is no fee for the general permit. You must request an individual permit if you intend to import a species of fish not listed here or for purposes other than rearing in a fish farm. More information regarding DNR requirements on non-native species can be obtained on the DNR Fish Importation Web Page.

Exemptions exist, in some cases, for live ornamental fish or the eggs of ornamental fish, fish for slaughter, and fish for display and research (see ATCP 10.62(2).

Aquaculture Facility Registration

DATCP provides aquaculture facility registration information on their Fish Farm Web Page.

WI aquaculture facilities are registered as either Type 1, Type 2 or Type 3 depending on activities undertaken.

For questions you can call DATCP Division of Health at 608-224-4887.

Or call the Aquaculture Program Associate at 608-224-4887

Fish Health Certificates

Fish health inspections must be completed by Qualified Fish Health Inspectors.  For a list of instate qualified inspectors and additional information see DATCP Fish Health Web Page.

Fish health certification falls under ATCP 10.65.

There are various levels of requirements to WI fish health certificates. See ATCP 10.65(4) "Certificate Contents" and/or contact DATCP contact personnel for clarification.

Fish health certificates must be completed on a form provided by WDATCP. An online copy of this form is available on the MYDATCP Licenses Web Page.

Fish health certificates can be issued for either a) an individual shipment of fish or fish eggs, or b) the entire fish farm. Acceptable protocols include AFS Blue Book or OIE. Protocols may depend on the type of facility, rearing programs within the facility, and movement of fish into and out of the facility.

Certification expiration dates. ATCP 10.65 (4m)(a) A health certificate based on an inspection under sub. (3) (a) (individual shipment of fish or fish eggs) expires 30 days after it is issued unless the department by written notice specifies a different expiration date.  A health certificate based on an inspection under sub. (3) (b) (fish farm) expires one year after it is issued unless the department by written notice specifies a different expiration date.

Fish health inspectors and laboratories.

ATCP 10.67 (excerpt)

Qualified fish health inspectors:

  1. A Wisconsin certified veterinarian who has completed a fish health inspection training program approved by the department.
  2. For purposes of an action taken under this chapter outside this state, any accredited veterinarian.
  3. An individual who is currently certified by the American fisheries society as a fish health inspector or fish pathologist, and who has completed fish health inspection training approved by the department.
  4. An individual who is currently authorized by a state to conduct official fish health inspections in that state, and who has completed a fish health inspection training program approved by the department.

Qualified laboratories:

  1. A laboratory approved by the federal bureau for purposes of disease testing related to interstate movement of fish or fish eggs.
  2. A laboratory approved by the department for purposes of disease testing related to compliance with this subchapter, including imports of fish or fish eggs.
  3. A federal or state veterinary diagnostic laboratory.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Oversight

Bait dealers license

Bait dealer license requirements are specified in WSL  s.29.509.

Applications and additional information can be found on the DNR Professional and Occupational Licenses Web Page.

Wild baitfish harvests from State of Wisconsin waters
Regulated by NR 19.057  Bait dealer's wild harvest permit required; criteria; records required.
For information and permits forms see DNR Wild Bait Harvest Permits.

Wisconsin Invasive Species Regulations, restricted and prohibited species

Wisconsins NR40 Invasive Species Rule

Aquaculture Related Permits and Regulations through WDNR

Although DATCP is responsible for the annual registration of fish farms, fish import permits for live fish and eggs and all matters related to fish health in WI, additional permits may be necessary from WDNR. Based on the way you plan to operate your aquaculture facility or fish farm ponds, you may need to apply for certain environmental permits from the DNR.

The types of environmental permits which may be needed for aquaculture, but are not limited to, include:
                aquatic plant control - includes pesticides
                dams - including construction & maintenance
                diversion of water
                fish stocking
                high capacity wells
                natural water body
                importation of fish - non-native species
                ponds - including construction and dredging
                private fishing preserve
                waste discharge - "WPDES" permit
                water use

For additional information, contact information and online access to permits see the DNR The Art of Fish Farming Web Page.