COLUMBUS – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife has issued a statewide directive to its enforcement officers to clarify guidelines for enforcing a new rule that specifies the condition of fish fillets being kept or transported.
“Many Ohio anglers have expressed that they were confused about the fillet rule so I asked our Division of Wildlife to clarify the rule so no innocent angler stands a chance of getting in to trouble when they are trying to follow the law,” said ODNR Director James Zehringer, .
The rule, Ohio Administrative Code 1501:31-13-08, states that it is unlawful to possess or transport a fish unless the fish is in the round or a complete fillet with skin attached until a person reaches their permanent residence. The confusion surrounding the question of whether the skin had to be kept on the entire fillet or whether a patch of skin to identify the fish species would suffice. Many Lake Erie anglers come to the lake for a few days or a week to sample the world class fishery, and anglers may be bringing home several days’ limits of the various species.
After a thorough review, a directive sent to wildlife officers from Scott Zody, chief of the Division of Wildlife, specified that the rule should be interpreted to mean that only a patch of skin, enough to identify the species of the fish is required to be left on the fillet. Changes will be made this fall during the regular rulemaking package to further clarify the requirement in code. The rule is designed as a tool to protect the valuable Lake Erie fishing resource and to allow wildlife officers to identify fillets in an angler’s possession.
“Our goal was to protect the state’s most valuable fishery,” said Zody. “It was not our intent to create a hardship for anglers, who bring a tremendous economic benefit to the state.”