Federal Recreational Fish Hatcheries are on the


Cuts
to the National Fish Hatchery System budget could greatly reduce angling
opportunity

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS)
National Fish Hatchery System (NFHS) is responsible for stocking many of our
nation’s waters with the fish that anglers enjoy pursuing. Federal hatcheries
across the U.S. raise and release millions of recreationally-important species
such as rainbow trout to mitigate for the loss of native fisheries due to water
development projects. In response to recent cuts in the federal budget, the FWS
has proposed an $11 million reduction in NFHS funding, with $6 million coming
from the account for operating mitigation hatcheries. If approved, this large
reduction will result in the closure of nine hatcheries, seven of which are located in the
southeastern U.S., greatly reducing angling opportunity in the region. The
impacts of these closures will hit both anglers and local economies hard, as
the operations of these hatcheries help support over 3,500 jobs and have an
annual economic impact of over $325 million.

The
Situation

The FWS provides millions of hatchery-reared fish to mitigate the impacts of
dams and other man-made water projects by agencies such as the Army Corps of
Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation and the Tennessee Valley Authority. If the FWS
does not receive full reimbursement for these efforts, they have proposed
stopping operations at these nine hatcheries. If this happens, recreational fishing opportunities,
especially in the southeastern U.S., will be severely reduced.

The
Solution

The FWS is planning to direct money from the NFHS budget to alleviate the
impact of funding cuts on other FWS programs and provide funding for new
initiatives. These programs and new initiatives make few contributions to
recreational fisheries. In the recent past, the FWS had sought reimbursement
for mitigation hatchery operations.  But now, because this reimbursement
is unsure, the FWS is proposing to close the hatcheries and redirect any
savings out of the Fisheries program. To keep these hatcheries operating, the
FWS must either be assured of full reimbursement or restoration of NFHS base
funding until reimbursements are negotiated. Unfortunately, neither of these
options is likely to happen without Congressional mandate.

How You Can Help

Send a message to your Members of
Congress
urging them to take the necessary actions to
restore the NFHS budget and keep our nation’s hatcheries operating.

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