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7/11/2014 6:00:00 AM
Jobs, tourism at issue in federal fisheries legislation
Fish stocking too important to lose, say officials
U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.
U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.
Mohave County Supervisor Hildy Angius
Mohave County Supervisor Hildy Angius
By Hubble Ray Smith
Miner reporter

KINGMAN - Get fish off the government hit list and into the water where they at least have a fighting chance at becoming the one that got away - that's what Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., hopes to achieve with his Fish Hatchery Protection Act that was introduced to Congress this week.

The bill would preserve propagation programs such as the rainbow trout stocking program at Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery that some see as essential for the recreational fishing industry.

A November decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to terminate those programs and close some of the nation's fish hatcheries is "extremely misguided" and will harm local economies, Gosar said.

"My legislation will reverse the short-sided decisions by the administration, preserve jobs, strengthen local economies and ensure the continuation of vibrant recreational fishing economies in Arizona and throughout the nation," he said in a prepared statement.

The 52-year-old trout stocking program at Willow Beach hatchery supports a fishing and tourism industry that employs 1,700 people and generates $75 million a year for Mohave County's economy, said Hildy Angius, chairwoman of Mohave County Board of Supervisors.

She testified before the Appropriations Committee in April to set aside money to fix a broken pipe at the hatchery.

"That's the issue, but it was dovetailing into a new policy to stop stocking sport fish around the country," she told the Kingman Daily Miner Thursday. "Now it's about what's going to happen to these programs in the future."

The economic impact of fishing in Arizona has been well documented.

Some 650,000 fishermen spend more than $890 million in recreational cities such as Bullhead City, Lake Havasu City and Laughlin, said Robert Mansell, chairman of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission.

The National Fish Hatchery System returns $28 to the national economy for every dollar spent and generates $3.6 billion annually, the Fish and Wildlife Service estimated.

Angius said the Fish Hatchery Protection Act reiterates that only Congress can stop or mitigate fish propagation programs. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is overstepping its authority by doing so, she said.

Sport fishing and hunting took another blow Wednesday when Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., blocked an amendment to a sportsman's bill by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., that would preserve hunting, shooting and fishing on public lands, with special mention of Willow Beach, Angius said.

The Willow Beach hatchery, 11 miles south of Hoover Dam, was established to produce rainbow trout for stocking the Colorado River, but started focusing on threatened and endangered species such as the bony-tail chub and razorback sucker after the Endangered Species Act became law in 1973.

Last year, the hatchery was plagued by two large and unexpected rainbow trout die-offs that led to closing the stocking program.

ICT - Hummingbead of Kingman
Related Stories:
• Deal reached on repairs to Willow Beach hatchery
• Solution floated to maintain Willow Beach sport fishery
• Trout stocking returns to Willow Beach hatchery
• Arizona game officials unhappy with Willow Beach developments

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, July 13, 2014
Article comment by: joker wilde

Fish and wolves. If wolves live in Arizona, we'll face a disaster. If fish die in Arizona, the same thing happens. I guess it's curtains for all of us. According to Hildy and the hilarious Republicans, that is.

Posted: Sunday, July 13, 2014
Article comment by: Uncle Anson

if you were to do a modicum of research on this you would discover some remarkable economic truths as to how this benefits the Nation as a whole. Now it stops short of you socialistic dream. It is also light years out of your field of expertise. Yes we are against spending money on really stupid things. The ACA comes to mind.

Posted: Saturday, July 12, 2014
Article comment by: Frankk Jacobs

I pay for my fishing license each year and each state requires a license so it really adds up. I thought this was the money to stock fish in the streams and lakes. I would like to know if this is not true then why am I required to buy a fishing license if there is no fish out there. Yes it would be a waste of time to fish period.

Posted: Saturday, July 12, 2014
Article comment by: The Fox Hound

Sorry Nephew I have to disagree with you on this one. I do fish and many people do. They come here from other states and contribute to our economy. I think it is a great way to spend taxpayers money and a wonderful way for family's to spend time together. The only reason the GOPERS are in favor of spending tax dollars on this issue is they know that their base fish and fisherman spend a lot of money in this state. Yes it would be much cheaper to just go to the market and buy some fish but going after it yourself is much more satisfying. So I guess that liberals can disagree on something after all.

Posted: Friday, July 11, 2014
Article comment by: Frances Perkins

Somehow this does not tell the whole story of socialism for fish. Game and fish says there are 1,700 people a day all year round, fishing on lake Havasu, Lake Mead and Lake Mohave? Spending almost a billion dollars a year? This fishing would be the biggest industry in Mohave County. Somehow does not compute. Hildy, would all these be at-will fish, or would they be subject to merit rules fish?

Posted: Friday, July 11, 2014
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

I was under the impression (obviously mistaken) that GOP'ers and TEAbillies were AGAINST spending money on really stupid things that do not benefit the nation as a whole.

I don't fish, will never fish, think fishing is a waste of time and am against wasting my tax dollars on something as ridiculous as "recreational fishing".

Let the private sector do it if it's such a big deal.

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