Arizona Game and Fish Commission Chairman Robert Mansell will present testimony on Wednesday, July 23 in Washington D.C. to the House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs.
He will share Commission perspective on H.R. 5026, the Fish Hatchery Protection Act, sponsored by Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar (CD-4), and voice support for a 10-year moratorium on National Fish Hatchery Closures, according to a release by Arizona Game and Fish.
Mansell will explain that the Commission has a vested interest in the future of the National Fish Hatchery System and what changes to the system could mean to fisheries, recreational opportunities and state hatchery systems.
“According to the American Sportfishing Association, more people in America fish than play golf and tennis combined,” Mansell said. “If fishing opportunities are severely curtailed, many state and federal agencies will have fewer tools to get youth and the public recreating outdoors.”
In Arizona, at the Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery located along the Colorado River south of the Hoover Dam, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in November conducted an emergency stocking of 11,000 rainbow trout when low water levels compromised the water delivery system to the hatchery. At that time, the Service also informed Arizona it would end all trout stocking efforts in perpetuity.
At the latest legislative session, at the request of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, the Arizona House of Representatives issued a proclamation, requesting that members of the Arizona Congressional Delegation and the Arizona legislature take appropriate actions to ensure the USFWS fulfills the national hatchery system mission as a support to the states’ fisheries conservation mission and honor its Memoranda of Understanding with the states and their associated conservation agencies.
In April, the Arizona Game and Fish Department and Mohave County, in cooperation with the Service, created a short-term solution to provide recreational fishing opportunities this fall in the Willow Beach-Bullhead City area.
In short, Mansell will point out that the states' longstanding relationship with the National Fish Hatchery System is in peril. Cessation of sport fish production at western federal hatcheries will result in:
-- Loss of a successful economic driver.
-- Loss of recreational opportunities.
-- Reduced ability to get youth and the public outdoors
Mansell will testify that the moratorium will allow the Service and other federal agencies an opportunity to properly consult with state wildlife agencies to create a viable alternative.