Mohave Valley Daily News
The Daily News staff | Posted: Thursday, July 31, 2014 12:18 am
WASHINGTON — The Fish Hatchery Protection Act earned approval by the House Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday and heads to the full House for consideration.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., is designed to restore and preserve propagation fish hatcheries and propagation programs within the National Fish Hatchery System and stipulates that only Congress can authorize the termination or significant alteration of such facilities and programs. In November 2013, the Fish and Wildlife Service changed the priorities for the five different propagation program categories and announced its intent to close propagation programs and possibly hatcheries throughout the nation in fiscal year 2015. The Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery, which has provided rainbow trout for the Colorado River system, was among facilities targeted for closure.
Gosar said he proposed the act because he thought the decision to terminate recreational fishing propagation programs was extremely misguided as several of the hatcheries affected were constructed more than 50 years ago to offset the loss of native fisheries resulting from the construction of federal dams.
By the Fish and Wildlife Service’s own estimates, the National Fish Hatchery System returns $28 to the national economy for every dollar spent, generating $3.6 billion annually, he argued.
“Today the Natural Resources Committee voted to protect vital recreational fishing industries that provide jobs and revenue for rural communities throughout the country,” Gosar said Wednesday. “I am pleased to see that my colleagues on the committee agree that only Congress should authorize the termination of fish hatchery facilities or programs.
“From recent testimony that we have heard from the Fish and Wildlife Service, it is clear that they have acted poorly by not offering a public comment period and did not consider job losses or associated economic impact before terminating important recreational fishing programs. Even Deputy Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service Steve Guertin admitted their organization failed to recognize the negative consequences of their flawed actions.
“This continues a disturbing trend of big government, bureaucratic decisions that harm local communities and I am proud that my legislation will move forward to correct this overreach by the Fish and Wildlife Service.”
Among those testifying before the committee last week was Mohave County Sup. Hildy Angius, who cited the economic benefits recreational fishing provides for the Tri-state and the impact that removing a portion of that would have on the area.
The FNNFH would like to thank the Mohave Valley Daily News for allowing us to republish their article.