The House Natural Resources Committee voted 25-17 on Wednesday during a legislative markup to successfully pass H.R. 5026, the Fish Hatchery Protection Act. By the Fish and Wildlife Service’s own estimates, the National Fish Hatchery System returns $28 to the national economy for every dollar spent and $3.6 billion to our economy annually.
“The Natural Resources Committee passed my commonsense legislation to protect vital recreational fishing industries that provide jobs and important revenues for rural communities throughout the country,” said the legislation’s sponsor Rep. Paul Gosar. “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.
“Recent testimony heard from the Fish and Wildlife Service on the bill made clear that Service failed to hold a public comment period and did not consider job losses or associated economic impact before terminating important recreational fishing programs,” continued Gosar. “Even Deputy Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, Steve Guertin, admitted, “This was not our [the Fish and Wildlife Service’s] finest hour.”
“This continues a disturbing trend of big government, bureaucratic decisions that harm local communities and this overreach by the Fish and Wildlife Service must be stopped,” concluded Gosar.
The Fish Hatchery Protection Act preserves 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 arbitrarily changed the priorities for the five different propagation program categories and announced their intent to close propagation programs and possibly hatcheries throughout the nation in fiscal year 2015.
The bureaucratic decision to terminate recreational fishing propagation programs is extremely misguided as several of the hatcheries affected were constructed more than 50 years ago for the sole purpose of offsetting the loss of native fisheries resulting from the construction of federal dams.