MDC reminds public to dispose of fish waste responsibly

Jill Pritchard, Missouri Department of Conservation
MDC urges the public to be mindful of regulations when disposing of fish-cleaning waste, such as paddlefish (pictured).

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) reminds the public to dispose of waste responsibly when cleaning fish.

Each year, MDC receives numerous nuisance complaints of fish-cleaning waste on the banks around public fishing accesses, especially during the paddlefish snagging season. It’s important for anglers to do their part to keep fishing areas clean for others to enjoy.

In addition to using trash receptacles, disposing of fish-cleaning waste back into the water is allowed. Waste should not be piled up near the water’s edge, and instead should be discarded into deeper water or in the flowing part of the stream. This assures waste cannot wash up to the bank or be concentrated in one area.

The Wildlife Code of Missouri states that extracted paddlefish eggs may not be possessed while on the water or adjacent banks and may not be transported. Disposing of paddlefish eggs immediately back into the water is allowed. A person just cannot transport the eggs to another location. This includes by boat to deeper water.

Paddlefish have several regulations to help protect them from poaching. Anglers may keep the eggs; however, extracted paddlefish eggs may not be possessed while on the waters of the state or adjacent banks, and may not be transported. If anglers wish to keep the eggs, they should be prepared to hold the intact fish on ice and remove the eggs from the fish later. Once the eggs have been removed from the fish, they cannot be transported to any other location. Learn more about paddlefish regulations at https://huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/fishing/species/paddlefish/paddlefish-regulations. 

Most species of fish have daily possession limits and disposing of an entire fish is not only wasteful, but a violation of the Wildlife Code. Entire fish cannot be tossed on a bank or dumped back into the water. Anglers fishing in Missouri waters should have a plan to use the fish they keep.

Maintaining public fishing areas for everyone to use and enjoy requires the help of all citizens. Anyone fishing in Missouri should be mindful of regulations and impacts to others.

For more information on fishing regulations, visit https://huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/fishing/regulations.