2011-Public Awareness Campaign
Viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS), a disease that can be deadly to more than 28 species of wild fish, has continued to spread to inland waters in all the states surrounding the Great Lakes. This has highlighted the need for a communications campaign to enlist the help of recreational boaters and anglers in preventing the further spread of the virus and other infectious diseases.
Launched in 2007, the public awareness and educational outreach campaign "Focus On Fish Health" has been funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The multi-media initiative targets recreational boating and fishing enthusiasts with messages that encourage them to take simple steps to prevent the spread of VHS. These steps include washing boats, gear and equipment; not dumping bilge water and not moving bait from one body of water to another.
To date eight states have been included in the campaign: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
This website is part of the campaign and was designed as a clearinghouse of available resources and information on VHS and other infectious diseases, and their prevention.
Over the years the campaign has evolved and grown. Among other activities it includes:
- Print advertising in sports publications for boaters and fishermen
- Radio public service announcements and paid advertising
- Web based advertising on targeted sites
- Billboards on key highways
- Movie theater advertising
- Development and distribution of informational printed materials and educational AV tools
- A Focus On Fish Health Photo Contest to drive traffic to the website: www.focusonfishhealth.org/photo-upload.php
- A publicity development campaign utilizing APHIS aquaculture experts as spokespersons on radio, TV and print media outlets
- An animated musical video for a variety of uses, including YouTube (available mid May, 2011)
The campaign draws upon the extensive expertise of a number of groups with established networks within the recreational fishing and boating communities to help develop and implement the Focus On Fish Health campaign. These partners have included:
- Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation
- Trout Unlimited
- State Departments of Natural Resources (Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Indiana)
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)/Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
- Fishing Buddies
- Bass Pro
- Bass Masters