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Jeff Lampe
Jeff Lampe

Jeff Lampe has been outdoor writer at the Journal Star in Peoria for 12 duck seasons. He lives in Elmwood with his wife Monica, sons Henry, Victor and Walter, and Llewellin setter Hawkeye. A native of Buffalo, N.Y., he is an avid fan of the Bills and still has mental scars from four consecutive Super Bowl losses. Outside of hunting and fishing, Lampe's main passion in Illinois was Class A boys basketball (which sadly no longer exists). Former publisher of the Class A Weekly newsletter, Lampe is a co-author of "100 Years of Madness" and "Classical Madness," both books focusing on prep basketball in Illinois.

Illinois Outdoors


A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

Open Blog Thursday

October 23, 2008 at 06:09 AM

I’m standing in a marsh in North Dakota today, then flying home on an airplane. I need help pretending to be a hard-working member of the outdoor media. Can you help?

FROM Kirby Marsden of Dallas City:

More than 1,200 licensed commercial fishermen in Illinois may lose their livelihood if Illinois 17 Admin. Code 875 is enforced. Code 875, adopted June 30 by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and written in response to isolated cases of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia Virus (VHS) in the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan and Winthrop Harbor, puts such harsh restrictions on commercial and sport fishermen throughout the state that those in Southern Illinois are seeking exemptions from the new law.

“We are all very concerned about the spread of VHS disease an all other fish diseases,” said Kirby Marsden, president of the Illinois Commercial Fishing Association, based in Dallas City. “But the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has indicated that this disease cannot be passed from fish to humans, so we are confused as to why they would enact this rule.” In an article published in the July 3 edition of the Chicago Tribune, reporter Michael Hawthorne described the disease as, ‘(A) virus, also known as VHS, (which) does not threaten human health but could be devastating to the $4 billion commercial and sport-fishing industry in the lakes.’

Among other things, Code 875 states that fishermen will no longer be allowed to transport live fish from their place of catch in livewells, large metal or plastic tubs with aeration equipment which keep the fish alive during transportation. Not being able to keep their catch alive, Marsden says, will mean that their industry will die.

“We will not be able to bring our catch of buffalo, carp, catfish, spoonbill or sturgeon to the market alive,” he says.“‘If we’re forced to transport them without river water that enables them to breathe, the fish will be dead on arrival. That results in a poor quality product and will kill our businesses.”

Marsden, whose fishing association represents the 1,250 licensed commercial fishermen in Illinois, also adds that despite the obvious effects on the commercial fishing industry, Code 875 includes a statement that no small businesses will be impacted by its enactment. In addition, the code also states that it was written without any research data being used to support its claim that the fishing industry would contribute to the spread of VHS.

“The members of this organization, our industry has been struggling for years, and now the DNR wants to limit us even more by enforcing a law that is not based on science,” Marsden said. “Does that make sense to you? How can a bill be passed without findings of at least one scientific study to support the claim that our work will contribute to the spread of VHS?”

Existing laws for decades in Illinois have prohibited licensed commercial fishermen from dropping their nets in the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan as well as on the Illinois River within a range of 100 miles of lake Michigan. So, Marsden says, the chances of this disease spreading to Southern Illinois by commercial fishing activities are nonexistent. It’s that simple fact that pushes Marsden and his fellow fishermen for an exemption from Code 875.

“There can be no way that commercial fishing activities can spread VHS disease. This bill has clearly been written with no concern for the hardships that would be placed upon the commercial fishing industry. We just want to be able to continue doing our jobs in a way that we know serves our customers’ best interests.”



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