Sen. Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point, recently introduced a bill that she carried in 2017 to allow the import of baitfish from outside Minnesota.
Current law prohibits the import of live minnows and leeches from out of the state. Because of this, retailers and local bait shops must rely on Minnesota distributors. Unfortunately, with the unpredictable weather, distributors frequently struggle to keep up with the demand and as a result bait shops are not able to fulfill the needs of their customers. This year especially, the weather was not favorable and after the fishing opener last weekend, it is already apparent that there is a shortage of baitfish.
Ruud's bill will expand the current language around minnow imports and allow retailers to restock the low supply from distributors outside the state.
"We need to implement a regulated system to replenish the shortage of baitfish," said Ruud in a news release. "Fishing is a way of life here in Minnesota and our beautiful lakes and fish even bring in tourists from other states. This sport is important to people and to small business owners and we need to do what we can to support it."
This bill will require that the minnows come from certified farms in Arkansas that are required to perform comprehensive tests ensuring fish disease, pathogens, and aquatic invasive species will not enter our lakes. The inspection process has been vetted and is a low risk alternative to the bait shortage. Ruud noted 48 other states have already implemented this law and been successful. "It is time we adopt this tested practice," she said.
Ruud's bill will help small bait shops "thrive and supply their customers with the bait they need to get the fish biting."