Policy Update

Minnesota Enacts First in the Nation Legislation for Native Rough Fish

May 31, 2024



NCEL Point of Contact

Kate Burgess
Conservation Program Manager


On April 26, Minnesota Governor Walz enacted HF 2774 / SF 2904, which is a first-in-the-nation bill to protect the state’s native rough fish. Rough fish – such as the longnose gar – are native, freshwater fish that are historically less desirable in commercial and recreational harvesting activities. HF 2274 / SF 2904 builds upon the MN Department of Natural Resources’s recommendations to modify the definition of “rough fish” and grants the agency new authority over native rough fish.

  • Why it Matters: Rough fish occupy key roles in aquatic ecosystems by providing food for more recreationally or commercially desired species. Additionally, they eat invasive species, among other valuable ecosystem services. However, there are no take limits for rough fish throughout the U.S., allowing for their wanton waste. Minnesota is now the first state in the country to enact legislation creating protections and take limits for native rough fish.

Key Provisions:

  • Grants the Department of Natural Resources rulemaking authority for daily and seasonal take limits and the authority to set and close open seasons for native rough fish. There were previously high – if any –  take limits for these fish and little resources available to monitor their population status.
  • Replaces all instances of “rough fish” with “native rough fish”, separating native fish from invasive fish. Invasive species, such as carp, are not afforded the protections under the new law.
  • Classifies native rough fish as “protected wild animals”, a category that includes big game, small game, and game fish with restrictions on the time and manner of their take.
  • Sets penalties for the illegal take of native rough fish with a fine of the value of the animal and suspension of hunting and fishing licenses.
  • Eliminates fishing contests for native rough fish.

Bill Sponsors

This bill’s Article 2 was sponsored by MN Sen. Sydney Jordan, a recipient of NCEL 2023’s Rising Environmental Leaders Award.