Vermont anglers decry proposal to close fish hatchery
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont’s angling community says a proposal to close one of the state’s five fish hatcheries as part of money-saving effort by the administration of Republican Gov. Phil Scott would have a significant impact on the number of fish that could be stocked in the state’s lakes and rivers.
Scott proposed closing the Salisbury Fish Culture Station as part of his budget plan for next year.
Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter tells Vermont Public Radio his department needed to find $250,000 in savings.
“We had a number of difficult options on the table to close our budget, and this is the best of those options,” Porter said.
But Bob Samsom of the Lake Champlain Walleye Association said the state will lose far more in economic activity than it will gain in savings.
“It’s bringing so much more to the economy,” Samsom said. “I can’t believe they’re going to target our hatcheries.”
The Salisbury Fish Culture Station, which opened in 1931, is where the department raises brood stock used to raise five different varieties of trout at other hatcheries across the state.
If the Salisbury station is closed Vermont will reduce the number of adult fish available for stocking and there won’t be as many fish available for anglers.
“And people just won’t come here,” Samsom said. “I think of everything we’re doing to bring people here, and this is just a . kick in the butt, is what it is.”
Porter acknowledges closing the hatchery will have significant impacts to fish stocking for several years. It’s bad news for an outdoor recreation industry that generates in $2.5 billion annually, including $39 million from hatchery fish.
But he says the Salisbury hatchery would soon need $13 million in upgrades to meet clean water standards, which figured into the decision to close it.
Information from: WVPS-FM, http://www.vpr.net