Maine “Emerald Shiner” Ban Causes Confusion

A revised Maine law banning the sale or use of Emerald Shiners from the list of legal baitfish allowed by the state has caused concern among anglers and bait shop owners who regularly use shiners as live bait for a variety of species.

It turns out that the term “Emerald Shiner” is often used by Maine anglers and bait dealers to describe what are actually Eastern Silvery Minnows (Hybognathus regius) or Common Shiners (Luxilus cornutus), both of which are native to the state and legal to use as bait.

The recent legislation removed the true Emerald Shiner (Notropis atherinoides) as a legal baitfish, as it is not native to Maine and could pose a risk of competing with and displacing native shiners. Recent bait shop inspections have yet to positively identify a true emerald shiner. Further, bait shops that wish to market native shiners as “Emeralds” can continue to do so in the state.

Bottom line: removal of true Emerald Shiners from the list of approved baitfish will likely result in no meaningful change in what anglers are currently using for bait, and the revised law will help keep invasive minnow species out of Maine and add a layer of protection for native fish.